Washington, D.C. - The Brazilian State of Amapá has announced the creation of the Amapá State Forest, a 5.7 million acre Amazon protected area that is larger than the state of New Jersey. The designation protects a crucial section of the Amapá Biodiversity Corridor of northern Brazil, which includes some of the most pristine remaining Amazon forest.
Conservation International (CI) contributed technically and financially to the creation of this State Forest. The initiative was partially financed by the Global Conservation Fund (GCF) at CI.
The Amapá Biodiversity Corridor is one of the world's most diverse regions, with tropical forests, mangrove swamps, savannah, and wetlands. It covers 11 million hectares, an area larger than Iceland, and includes four indigenous reserves. Among the corridor's jewels is Tumucumaque National Park, which at 3.87 million hectares is the world's largest tropical forest park.
"Brazil has raised the bar in terms of conservation commitment and has set a new global standard," said José Maria Cardoso da Silva, CI's vice president for science and Amazonia projects. "The government of Amapá deserves our gratitude for what it is doing to conserve and promote the sustainable use of a very significant portion of one of the world's priority conservation areas, allowing us to make economic activity in the region more compatible with conservation."
Recent biological expeditions in the Corridor, led by CI and the Amapá State Institute for Research, showed the corridor has more than 1,700 species of animals and plants, including 430 species of birds, 104 species of amphibians, 124 reptile species and 127 mammal species, including 62 bat species. Twenty three species, mainly fish, amphibians and reptiles, are believed new to science. Most of the new species are endemic to the region.
"Creating new protected areas and integrating them into a large-scale biodiversity corridor, along with the effective use of the deforested lands, is a key strategy to promote the social and economic development of Amapá," said Alberto Goés, Secretary of Economic Development of the State of Amapá.
The State Forest of the Amapá will include a regulated production zone that allows limited harvesting of both timber and non-timber products such as vines and essential oils. CI will support the biological studies necessary for the development of management plans for designating and regulating the production zones.
"This plan divides the area into different blocks, respecting strictly protected areas, those areas designated for timber exploration, areas for connectivity and restoration areas," said Enrico Bernard, CI's Amazonia program manager.
Brazil has a large and complex system of protected areas, with at least 268 federal reserves (including 57 national parks) and a minimum of 670 state reserves (with 181 state parks) and numerous municipal entities in various categories, including areas of sustainable use that benefit traditional communities and indigenous peoples. The nation's overall protected areas total nearly 125 million hectares, larger than twice the size of France.
The Amapá Biodiversity Corridor is a major component of plans to conserve a huge swath of Amazon forest in the Guyana Shield, which also includes protected areas in Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana and in the states of Pará, Amazonas, and Roraima in Brazil. The region is considered the largest and most untouched remaining tropical forest on Earth, and one of the highest priorities of international conservation.
The Global Conservation Fund (GCF) finances the creation, expansion, and long-term management of protected areas in the world’s biodiversity hotspots, high-biodiversity wilderness areas, and important marine regions.