Establishment of Alto Purús National Park

Protecting an area almost the size of Belgium

In the epicentre of the Southwestern Amazon Moist Forests ecoregion, an area of incredible biodiversity, WWF helped establish the Alto Purús National Park.

Situated alongside the Brazilian border, Peru's Alto Purús is a vast expanse of lowland tropical moist forests, unique flooded savannas dotted with palm trees and extensive bamboo-dominated forests.

The area falls within the Southwestern Amazon Moist Forests ecoregion, an area of high biodiversity and unique ecological and evolutionary processes. Furthermore, it is one of the last refuges for large populations of the highly-valued big-leaf mahogany.

What research tells us

The limited research undertaken in the area has already shown a high diversity of terrestrial mammals (at least 80 species), reptiles and amphibians (157 species), fish (100 species) and a remarkable level of bird and butterfly endemism.

The area is home to such rare species as the Goeldi’s monkey (Callimico goeldii) and bush dog (Spheothos venaticus), and endangered and threatened species like the black spider monkey (Ateles paniscus), the jaguar (Panthera onca), the scarlet macaw (Ara macao) and the giant river otter (Pteronura brasiliensis).
 / ©: WWF
Map of Alto Purús. Click on the image to view enlarged version.
© WWF

Rich tree heritage

Forest cover in Alto Purús is also relatively intact as there has been minimal human intervention in the area since the time of the rubber boom. Economically important trees such as mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) and cedar (Cedrela odorata) are still found there while various palm species valuable for their non-timber resources are also found in the Communal Reserve and National Park.

The ecoregion contributes to the conservation of a landscape totalling over 80,000 km² of protected areas and indigenous territories in Brazil and Peru.

What undermines Alto Purús

Between 400 and 1,000 people living in voluntary isolation are especially vulnerable to outside pressures, as well as to diseases for which they have little resistance. While the area is relatively undisturbed, development pressures from cattle-ranching, commercial agriculture, illegal logging, and infrastructure building are increasing.

How it was declared

WWF was involved in the establishment of the 27,242-km² Alto Purús National Park and Communal Reserve, assisting with the designation and demarcation of the area by representatives of the 9 indigenous groups who live there.

Alto Purús combines a traditional National Park, a Communal Reserve for indigenous communities and a Territorial Reserve which will increase protection of the land rights of the Mashco-Piro, an indigenous group which has chosen to avoid all contact with the outside world.

Next [Managing protected areas in the Amazon] >>

 / ©: WWF-Canon / André BÄRTSCHI
Culina boys at Shapuyo, a native community along the Rio Alto Purus near the Alto Purus Reserved Zone, department Ucayali, Peru.
© WWF-Canon / André BÄRTSCHI

We are very happy about the establishment of the park, communal reserve and special commission because it will help our communities better manage their territories according to the traditions of our ancestors.

Fredy Lopez Tranbeca, Chief of the 180-inhabitant Gasta Bala community

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