The Newest National Park in the World – Sierra del Divisor

Ucayali River

Ucayali River
Photo by Diego Sanguinetti [CC BY-SA 3.0]

On November 8, 2015 Peruvian President Ollanta Humala approved the creation of a 3.3 million-acre national park at Sierra del Divisor in Peru’s Amazon Basin on the border between Brazil and Peru.  This land, and more, had been designated as the Sierra del Divisor Reserved Zone in 2006 by decree of the Peruvian Government.  The process in moving from a Reserved Zone to a National Park was long and difficult, especially for the people that live around the new park.  The new Peruvian Park (Parque Nacional de la Sierra del Divisor) adjoins a 2.1 million acre park, of the same name (Parque Nacional da Serra do Divisor), in Brazil.

Working with People

Parque Nacional de la Sierra del Divisor

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The creation of the Sierra del Divisor Reserved Zone prohibited establishing title to the land to anyone.  While this kept those interested in development of the many resources in the area at bay,  it also made it agonizingly difficult for those that have lived in the area for generations to move forward.  Ultimately the Peruvian government worked with the villages to adjust the area boundaries so that the villages can remain and so that villagers can claim title to their land.    The National Park now has villages along its border that provide a buffer to other lands and ownerships in the area. Further,  there are indigenous communities within the park that have had little or no outside contact.

This process was accomplished in the face of intense opposition from development interests that looked longingly at the area’s forests, oil, gas, minerals, fish and wildlife.  Just last summer new deforestation was detected in the Reserved Zone and attributed to either illegal logging or farmers growing coca for the illegal drug trade.  As a National Park, the area should be more carefully managed to prevent these types of abuses.

In a Tweet, Peru’s Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal said, “The creation of the Sierra del Divisor National Park is a historic event. It is a confirmation of the Peruvian government’s commitment to conservation, sustainable development and the fight against climate change.”

Plants and Wildlife

A quick survey of the area’s biology by the Chicago Field Museum was completed in 2005.  It found many species that seem to be new to science as well as many that are threatened.  These include:

  • South American Tapir - Tapirus_terrestris

    South American Tapir
    ( Tapirus terrestris)
    By Charles J Sharp, Sharp Photography) [CC BY-SA 4.0]

    38 larger mammals with 20 of them threatened including such species as jaguars, giant armadillos and South American tapirs and 16 primate species including Red Uakari Monkey and Goeldi’s Monkey.
  • 365 bird species including the rufous potoo, fiery topaz and the acre antshrike.
  • 109 species of fish, including 14 species new to science
  • 109 species of amphibians and reptiles including several species new to science
  • 1,000 species of plants including 6 smaller plants and 4 trees that are new to science.

All this from a quick survey performed in selected areas of what is now the park.  Thousands of additional species are believed to exist in the area and its is a certainty that more unknown species will eventually be found.

Geology

The Sierra del Divisor Mountains are a part of a series of low mountains in the center of the Peruvian Amazon that form a broken chain extending from the west bank of the Ucayali River to the border with Brazil . They comprise the only mountain range in the Amazon watershed.  From these mountains flow at least 10 rivers.  The landscape was created from volcanism and erosion that left a land of amazing variability and beauty.  Among the highlights are a number of dormant volcanic cones and numerous waterfalls.

The following video, by Giancarlo Morales, overs a good overview of the geology, people and wildlife of the area.

 

 

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