Two million acres of Peruvian rainforest designated a national park

The Earth’s not doing so hot (or rather, it’s too hot, and that’s a problem). Devastating hurricanes, raging wildfires, rising seas, and record-breaking temperatures can all be tied to climate change. One of the best ways to counteract these problems, say scientists, is to keep our planet’s forests intact. And today, decades of collaboration between scientists and governments have culminated in the designation of a giant new national park in the Peruvian Amazon. The new Yaguas National Park is over two million acres, about the size of Yosemite National Park in the US. (Or, if you’re more indoorsy, bigger than Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Tokyo, and Mexico City put together.) “This is extremely good news—we need to buffer the planet from climate change, and protecting the rainforest is the easiest way to do that,” says Senior Conservation Ecologist Corine Vriesendorp, who led the scientific efforts in protecting the region. Yaguas is a remote region of northeastern Peru, near the Colombian border, part of a vast expanse of forest along the Putumayo River, a tributary of the Amazon. It’s one of the most biodiverse places on Earth, and home to rich cultural diversity, as well as a darker past—forced labor and genocide during the rubber boom around the turn of the 20th century. The Andes-Amazon team has been working with local residents and partners to make the park a reality for 14 years. In 2011 an international team of biologists, social scientists, and guides, documented the area’s plant and animal life and learned how the local people used the landscape and envisioned its future, then briefed the Peruvian government on the extraordinary features of the landscape and its inhabitants, and why the area merited designation as a national park. The government gave the landscape a provisional designation, soon after the 2011 inventory; the final designation as a National Park will help ensure that the region is protected and properly managed for the long term. This protection is critical for the quality of life of local indigenous peoples and for the safeguarding of countless species of plants and animals, and crucial for the health of the planet and the fight against climate change. The Field Museum partnered with numerous indigenous federations, government agencies, conservation groups, and other partners on this effort, including Instituto del Bien Común, Proyecto Especial Binacional Desarrollo Integral de la Cuenca del Río Putumayo, Federación de Comunidades Nativas Fronterizas del Putumayo, Federación de Comunidades Indígenas del Bajo Putumayo , Universidad Nacional de la Amazonia Peruana, Museo de Historia Natural de la Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos (MUSM), Servicio Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas por el Estado, el Ministerio del Ambiente and key individuals. Much of the Field Museum’s work in Yaguas was funded by the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation. We beat the mainstream press on this, thanks to PR’s Kate Gombiewski, but you can read the Peruvian breaking news here;