Establishment of Sierra del Divisor National Park in Peru secures final link in 67 million-acre Andes-Amazon Conservation Corridor that will protect wildlife and indigenous communities.
On Sunday, November 8, Peruvian President Ollanta Humala will approve the creation of a 3.3 million-acre national park at Sierra del Divisor, protecting an immense expanse of Amazon rainforest. The new park—which is larger than Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks combined — strategically secures the final link in a 67 million-acre Andes-Amazon Conservation Corridor, forming one of the largest contiguous blocks of protected areas in the Amazon, and is vital to protecting one of the planet’s last remaining strongholds for wildlife biodiversity and indigenous communities.
The U.S. nonprofit organization Rainforest Trust in collaboration with Peruvian partner CEDIA (Center for the Development of an Indigenous Amazon) worked with local indigenous communities and Peru’s government to create the new national park. Its establishment ends a nine-year push for protection that has involved numerous NGOs and organizations in Peru and abroad. Rainforest Trust has supported the long-term costs of establishing and protecting the park.
“The Sierra del Divisor is the final link in an immense protected area complex that extends for more than 1,100 miles from the banks of the Amazon in Brazil to the snowy peaks of the Peruvian Andes,” said Dr. Paul Salaman, CEO of Rainforest Trust. “After two decades of collaborating with CEDIA to protect indigenous territories and establish nature reserves, parks and sanctuaries throughout the Amazon of Peru, we have finally completed the centerpiece with the declaration of Sierra del Divisor National Park. This permanent conservation corridor is one of the greatest refuges for biodiversity on Earth.”
The new park is not only important for the biodiversity it protects, but also for the carbon it stores. The new 3.3 million acre Sierra del Divisor National Park stores more than 500 million tons of carbon dioxide. This is equivalent to over half the annual 1 Billion tons of CO2 emissions from cars in the US.
Considered one of Peru’s highest conservation priorities, the Sierra del Divisor has long been recognized for its superlative biodiversity. A brief expedition by the Chicago Field Museum found the Sierra del Divisor home to the highest levels of primate diversity in the western Amazon, as well as an estimated 300 species of fish and 3,500 plant species. The region is a stronghold for large mammal species such as jaguars and tapirs that are in decline throughout their range. It will also provide protection for the Iskonowa, an indigenous tribe living within the new park in voluntary isolation.
“Protecting the Sierra del Divisor Mountain Range from illegal logging and mining is crucial for endangered wildlife, for indigenous peoples and for the world,” explained Salaman.
“We’re thrilled to join CEDIA on this momentous victory for the planet by announcing the final creation of Sierra del Divisor National Park. We will continue to support CEDIA’s effort to protect an additional 2.3 million acres of threatened forest habitat surrounding the park to further strengthen the Andes-Amazon Corridor.”
Leaders representing three indigenous communities travelled to Lima the first week of May to draw attention to the Sierra del Divisor. They presented their demands that it be designated a national park to government officials from the Environmental and Cultural Ministries, as well as the High Commissioner on Dialogue and Sustainability.
“Our project in the Sierra del Divisor builds on more than 30 years of experience of working with native communities and protected areas,” said Lelis Rivera, Director of CEDIA. “The creation of this park would not have been possible without their strong support because communities know that their future depends on the local ecosystem’s health. The next step is to help provide them with the technical and legal tools to meet challenges on their native lands from extractive industries.”
The new park is pivotal to securing the massive Andes-Amazon Conservation Corridor, which was built by two decades of partnership between Rainforest Trust and CEDIA. The two organizations have collectively protected almost 30 million acres of rainforest by establishing land rights for hundreds of indigenous communities and by creating new nature parks and wildlife sanctuaries.
About Rainforest Trust and CEDIA
Rainforest Trust is a nonprofit conservation organization focused on saving threatened rainforest and tropical habitat for endangered species in partnership with local conservation leaders and communities. Since its founding in 1988, Rainforest Trust has saved over 11 million acres of tropical forest habitat throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America in over 100 project sites across 20 countries.
CEDIA protects the Peruvian Amazon by promoting the legal land rights of indigenous groups. Since 1982, the organization has worked successfully with the Peruvian Government to protect more than 28 million acres of rainforest through the creation of protected areas and indigenous reserves. By empowering local people to responsibly conserve and manage protected areas, CEDIA is helping to promote a sustainable future for Peru’s Amazon.
Rainforest Trust wishes to thank Peruvian President Ollanta Humala, Peru’s Ministry of the Environment, and the hundreds of Rainforest Trust donors who supported this project to make it possible, including an anonymous supporter, Eric Veach and Luanne Lemmer, Brett Byers and Leslie Santos, GreaterGood.org, Mystic Dreamer: Art for the Earth, Leslie Danoff and Larry Robbins, Melissa Barshop, Eoghan and Giuliana Daltun, Lucas Hansen, Larry Thompson, Elliotte Harold, Sally Davidson, Edith McBean, Patience and Tom Chamberlin, Donald and Karen Stearns, Urs-Peter Stäuble, James Gunn, Benevity Social Ventures, Care2, Partnership for International Birding, and Aqua-Firma Worldwide.
Other institutions and organizations that have supported the creation of Sierra del Divisor National Park include the Peruvian National Park Service, the Peruvian National Government, the regional governments of Loreto and Ucayali, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Chicago Field Museum, the Institute of the Common Good, ProNaturaleza and The Nature Conservancy.