04 July 2018
Colombian reserve becomes world’s largest protected rainforest and a new World Heritage Site
- Serranía del Chiribiquete National Park, which is home to rare wildlife including jaguars, giant otters and woolly monkeys, has been increased by more than 50% following conservation efforts supported by WWF
- The park has also been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Guaviare, Amazonas, Colombia: Serranía del Chiribiquete National Park, in the heart of the Colombian Amazon, was expanded today by more than 50 per cent making it the world’s largest national park protecting a tropical rainforest. The announcement marks the culmination of decades of efforts by environmental authorities and an alliance for the conservation of new protected areas in Colombia, supported by WWF. In a double conservation win, the park has also been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, reflecting its enormous environmental, cultural and social value.
Chiribiquete is home to nearly 3000 animal and plant species, including 366 birds and iconic species such as jaguars, manatees, dolphins, river otters, tapirs and the vulnerable brown woolly monkey. This rich biodiversity is due to the park’s unique location where four regions meet - the Amazon, Andean, Orinoco and Guyanas – and led UNESCO to make it a World Heritage Site, in recognition of its ‘outstanding universal value’ for nature and people.
The park has increased from 2.8 million hectares to 4.3 million, an expansion of 1.5 million hectares – equivalent to the size of Northern Ireland.
Mary Lou Higgins, Director, WWF-Colombia said:
“This is a very important milestone for the Amazon and for forest conservation globally. It is also a defining moment for the protection of key ecosystems in Colombia. Chiribiquete is very special for its biological, cultural, hydrological and archaeological value, holding rock art and visual records of extraordinary magnitude. It is also of vital importance to indigenous groups, some of whom remain uncontacted today, or live in voluntary isolation. The expansion and recognition of this unique place as a World Heritage Site is a significant step toward safeguarding it for future generations.”
Deforestation, climate change, agriculture illegal timber, illicit crops and unplanned settlements are significant threats to Colombia’s forests and 66 per cent of the country’s deforestation occurs in the Amazon region.
Mike Barrett, Executive Director of Science and Conservation at WWF said:
“The Amazon is home to a huge range of unique and amazing species and the expansion of this park by the Colombian government is an important step towards protecting it and the incredible biodiversity it is home to. This announcement is a major milestone in the success of conserving rainforests, but to ensure this special place has a future, we must also tackle the drivers of deforestation, especially our global food system.”
Covering forest areas in the municipalities with the highest deforestation rates in the country, Chiribiquete’s expansion is expected to work as a barrier against deforestation in the Amazon. It is also expected to help protect the territory from fires and illicit crops.
Notes to editors:
Drone footage, video and photo here
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About Serranía del Chiribiquete
- Serranía del Chiribiquete was declared a natural national park in September 1989 covering nearly 1.3 million hectares. In 2013, the park was expanded to almost 2.8 million hectares. The latest expansion of 1.5 million hectares will help ensure the protection of under-represented transition ecosystems.
- The management of the area in the next few years will be supported by Heritage Colombia, an initiative led by the National Parks of Colombia, with support from WWF, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Protected Areas and Biodiversity Fund, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Conservation International and initial funding from the German government (BMZ).Through this initiative, a fund will be created to increase the amount of land in Colombia’s protected area system and ensure the proper management and governance of land within the system. Heritage Colombia is also part the Trillion Trees initiative led by WWF, WCS and Birdlife International, to protect and restore one trillion trees around the world.
WWF is one of the world’s largest independent conservation organisations, with more than five million supporters and a global network active in more than one hundred countries. Through our engagement with the public, businesses and government, we focus on safeguarding the natural world, creating solutions to the most serious environmental issues facing our planet, so that people and nature thrive. Find out more about our work, past and present at wwf.org.uk