World's Largest Rain Forest National Park Created in Northern Amazon

8/21/2002

Brazil's Amap� State Protects Almost 10 Million Acres

Washington, DC - The government of Brazil announced today the creation of the largest rain forest national park in the world. Conservation International (CI) served as a lead non-governmental advisor for the park's creation, and will continue to provide financial and technical support.

The Tumucumaque Mountains National Park covers 9,562,770 acres (3,870,000 hectares) of remote, unexplored pristine forests in Brazil's state of Amap�, stretching through the northern Amazon along the boundary with French Guyana. The park is larger than Massachusetts and Connecticut combined.

The park is part of a forest block composed of three large indigenous lands and four other protected areas. Together, the region encompasses close to 27,181,000 acres (11,000,000 hectares), one of the world's largest uninterrupted expanses of protected forests. In total, the region is slightly larger than the state of Virginia.

Tumucumaque is some 667,000 acres (270,000 hectares) larger than the world's previous biggest tropical forest park, the Salonga of the Democratic Republic of Congo's.

"With the creation of Tumucumaque Mountains National Park, we are ensuring the protection of one of the most pristine forests remaining in the world," said Brazil's President Fernando Henrique Cardoso. "Plants and animals that may be endangered elsewhere will continue to thrive in our forests forever."

At least eight primate species, 350 bird species and 37 lizard species live in these forests. Among these are several species with declining populations in other parts of their ranges, including the jaguar, giant anteater, giant armadillo, harpy eagle, the black spider monkey, the brown-bearded saki monkey and the white-faced saki monkey. An estimated 42 percent of all lizards, 31 percent of all birds and 12 percent of all primates known to exist in the entire Brazilian Amazon are found in the new park.

"Brazil should be congratulated for its long-term vision, dedication and leadership on conserving its precious biodiversity," said Russell Mittermeier, President of Conservation International. "Since Tumucumaque is one of the greatest unexplored places on Earth, we can only imagine what undiscovered mysteries will one day be found in the park."

The new park will be administered in collaboration with the Amap� State, which has maintained remarkably intact forests, and has implemented an ambitious sustainable development program that satisfies both environmental and human needs. The program includes plans for income generation for local communities, emphasizes the preservation of natural resources, and combines advanced modern technologies with traditions of the region, such as respect for local cultures.

CI-Brazil has worked closely with Brazil's federal and state officials toward creation of the park, by providing technical assistance during the planning phase as well as by collecting information about the region's biological importance.

CI-Brazil will continue working with Amap� State to support the new park by assisting with mapping, enforcement activities, developing basic infrastructure, inventory of the region's biodiversity and environmental education for communities living in areas adjacent to the park.

"Walking through this park today looks much like it would have hundreds of years ago, since Tumucumaque has not been deforested," said Jos� Maria Cardoso da Silva, Director for Amazonia, CI-Brazil. "By creating the largest tropical forest national park in the world, Brazil has once again demonstrated its commitment to protecting some of the most precious biodiversity on Earth."

The Global Conservation Fund (GCF) at Conservation International is supporting critical activities that contributed to the declaration and implementation of the new park. The GCF is the global leader in rapidly and sustainably protecting the world's most biologically significant regions by financing and supporting the creation of new protected areas and the expansion of existing ones. The GCF was made possible by a gift from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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