The state government of Amazonas, Brazil announced today the creation of six new protected areas covering 3.8 million hectares of the world's most biodiversity-rich territory. The new areas cover a region the size of Belgium or Costa Rica and bring the state's overall protected area coverage to more than 40 percent.
Amazona's Secretary of Sustainable Development and the Environment (SES) Virgilio Viana made the announcement during the World Parks Congress (WPC) in Durban, South Africa.
The six new areas are: the Rio Urubú State Forest (45,000 hectares), the Cuieiras State Park (55,800 ha), the Cujubim Sustainable Development Reserve (2,450,381 ha.), the Catuá-Ipixuna Extractive Reserve (216,874 ha), the Piagaçu-Purus Sustainable Development Reserve (1,008,167 ha) and the Samaúma State Park (51 ha).
"This is a concrete example of the government of Amazona's commitment to conserve its natural resources," said Conservation International (CI) President Russell Mittermeier. "Conservation International is supporting this initiative with at least a 1-million dollar investment to guarantee that all of these conservation initiatives are implemented."
The Cujubim protected area is the result of the joint effort between the environment secretariat, CI-Brazil and the Djalma Batista Foundation.
"Before creating this reserve of gigantic proportions we studied the biology, economy and social conditions of the region," said Amazonas Governor Eduardo Braga. "Protecting these natural resources is no mere accident but the result of extensive planning, which will guarantee that Cujubim effectively protects one of the highest biodiversity regions in the world."
The reserve is rich in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, including six types of distinct vegetation, including dense forests and seasonally-flooded wetlands. According to preliminary data, the region holds 450 species of birds, 180 mammals (including 14 species of primates), along with dozens of turtle, lizard and amphibian species.
"We've known Cujubim is an extremely important area for biodiversity conservation since 1999, when we held a workshop to define conservation priorities in the Brazilian Amazon," said CI-Brazil Vice President José Maria Cardoso da Silva. "As we found out more about the region, we realized it is critical for the protection of fresh-water ecosystems and the maintenance of populations of species that are threatened in other parts of the country."
The park is home to some 250 villagers that live along the banks of the Jutaí River in abject poverty. It was named after the Cujubim bird (Pipile cumanensis)
that is thought to be abundant in the area. The Cujubim, which is about 69 cm and weighs about 1.2 kg is threatened by hunting and deforestation.
"Amazonas has made yet another important commitment to protecting the world's natural heritage and large amounts of resources will be mobilized to honor this commitment," said Viana. "That's why we are reorganizing our infrastructure, training municipal leaders to manage sustainable development projects and developing tools that will allow the executive branch to work hand-in-hand with local communities to manage and run the protected areas. International partnerships and financing are vital to guarantee that these areas are efficiently protected and to increase the quality of life of the communities that live inside these reserves."