Sierra del Divisor: Peru Creates New National Park in the Amazon
In a remarkable conservation move, Peru has recently concluded a decade of discussion and created a new national park in the Amazon: Sierra del Divisor. The now protected area is being called the “Yellowstone of the Amazon” for its conservation significance and impressive natural features. A massive 1.3 million hectares (3.3 million acres) are included in the reserve, and contain uncontacted indigenous tribes, endangered species, and spectacular natural landscapes. With a variety of groups who have helped lead the change, and the wide support of the public, Peru’s new national park is an exciting achievement that many have anxiously awaited.
Where is Sierra del Divisor?
Spread over the Loreto and Ucayall regions in Peru, it extends to the border with Brazil where the Brazilian national park of Sierra del Divisor begins. The area can only currently be reached by a tiresome 20-hour boat journey from the nearest city.
What can be found in Sierra del Divisor?
From wildlife to Amazonian tribes to incredible landscape, Sierra del Divisor has a wealth of nature and life.
The wildlife in Sierra del Divisor consists of many diverse and rare species, including an impressive number of endemic species that cannot be found anywhere else. Because the land is historically inaccessible, it has provided a refuge for many plant and animal species that have become threatened elsewhere in the Amazon rainforest.
Recent research has suggested that there are several dozen species found in the area that are new to science entirely, however the area is fairly new to such studies. Researchers expect future surveys to lead to the discovery of many more such species.
Some of the most notable animals found in Sierra del Divisor include the Red Uakari monkey, Jaguar, South American Tapir, Giant Armadillo and Goeldi’s Monkey. More than half of the medium and large mammal species in this region are listed as threatened.
Sierra del Divisor is also home to an impressive number of primate species, including 16 of the 33 found in the entire Amazon Basin. That’s even more than Manu National Park, which has gained worldwide notoriety as having the greatest biodiversity of any one place in the world.
Only 1,000 of the suggested 3,500 plants species anticipated in the area have been identified, and ten of these are entirely new to science (four of which are trees). Commercially valuable trees (like Mahogany) are found in abundance here, especially when compared to other regions of the Amazon in which they have been logged at unsustainable level.
Research suggests that as many as 300 fish species can be found in the streams and rivers of Sierra de Divisor, and so far 109 have been recorded (14 of which are new to science and/or previously unrecorded elsewhere in Peru).
Endemic birds such as the Rufous Potoo, Fiery Topaz, and especially rare Acre Antshrike fly here, only three of a confirmed 365 bird species in the area (estimates suggest the real number is closer to 570).
Sierra del Divisor is also home to 109 recorded species of amphibians and reptiles, including multiple that are new to science or previously unidentified in Peru.
Thousands of indigenous people have long called this territory home, including several tribes who prefer to remain uncontacted by the outside world. One of the most notable is the Iskonawa tribe, a group of 300-400 people voluntarily isolated in the Iskonawa Territorial Reserve.
With an incredible knowledge of the land they inhabit and a low-impact lifestyle on the lands they reside on, the Iskonawa people will now be able to live on the same land they have inhabited since the 16th century will a new buffer around their territory.
The dramatic landscape is made up of waterfalls, dormant volcanic cones, wild rivers, remote lakes, jagged canyons and lush rainforest. Sierra del Divisor is also the only mountain range found in the entire Amazon Basin, with a unique landscape that quickly stands out when seen from above.
One interesting element of the landscape here is the white-sand forest found between the Tapiche and Blanco rivers. Found in several areas of Northeastern Peru, these delicate ecosystems are consistently rich in endemic plant and animal life and are a high conservation priority.
Due to heavy rains, at least 10 rivers originate in Sierra del Divisor and supply water to over 40,000 people. These same rivers offer vital spawning grounds for many commercially valuable fish populations, serving as a sustainable source of food and income for local people.
The most striking natural feature in Sierra del Divisor is undoubtedly “El Cono”, one of the many dormant volcanic cones along the southern end of the mountain range. It rises more than 1,600 feet above the rest of the Amazon rainforest surrounding it, and adorns most every piece of literature on the region.
What is the significance of this new title?
First and foremost, this designation affirms Peru’s commitment to conservation and represents a historical step for the country. Containing the second largest portion of the Amazon rainforest after Brazil, it has taken a lot of effort to combat illegal exploitation of the vast and diverse region, and the duration of these talks and their final outcome has affirmed a positive direction. The designation will also enable the government and other affiliated agencies to increase efforts to prevent and punish those who exploit the region. Recently, illegal logging, mining and coca production have grown in Sierra del Divisor (included a new illegal logging road spotted by satellite just weeks before the decision), and this greatly steps up the authority of every agency to take on these perpetrators.
Some worried that the distinction alone would not be enough to create necessary change. To this, this Andes Amazon Fund has responded by committing one million dollars to begin managing the new park.
Several conservation groups plan to work in conjunction with Peru’s national park service as they begin to organize the newly named park of Sierra del Divisor, such as CEDIA, Rainforest Trust and multiple other government and non-profit organizations. For more information about Peru's new national park, Contact Us.