Sierra Divisor National Park — A Huge Win for the Planet

Sierra Divisor - famous conePresident  Ollanta Humala was in the community of Nuevo Saposoa on Sunday to sign into law the creation of a new conservation area, the Sierra del Divisor National Park.

The huge park — more than 1.3 million hectares (some 3.3 million acres) and larger than Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks combined — straddles parts of the Loreto and Ucayali regions and closes a final link to ensure the protection of a 67mn acre area known as the Andes-Amazon Conservation Corridor.

“The Sierra del Divisor National Park is unique on the planet,” Humala said to the indigenous community that was in Nuevo Saposoa to meet him, adding that the park is a clear and powerful message to the international community and to those who think that everything can be up for sale in Peru.

The project to create the park has been more than nine years in the making, the efforts of the Peruvian non-profit organization Cedia (Center for the Development of the Indigenous Amazon) with the long-term support of the U.S.-based Rainforest Trust to work with the indigenous communities throughout the area, mapping and collecting data.

Humala - Sierra DivisorIn 2013, the People’s Ombudsman’s Office monitored a prior consultation process between the government and the indigenous communities of Matsés, Ashanink’a, Huambisa, Isconahua and Shipibo-Conibo, who agreed on January 31, 2014 that a national park should be created.

Still, the government dragged its feet, leading the Ombudsman, Eduardo Vega, to file a demand that the Prime Minister recognize the prior consultation and proceed to create the park.  Visits to Lima by indigenous leaders on several occasions, and those of different conservation and scientific institutions was followed by a more recent online campaign led by the international activist organization Avaaz, which collected close to 1.2 million signatures for a letter to Premier Pedro Cateriano.

Sierra Divisor - young AshaninkasOn Nov. 6, Environment minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal sent a message on Twitter to announce that Cateriano would be signing the law.

The Sierra del Divisor is, according to the Instituto del Bien Comun, IBC, “the only mountainous region that exists in the lower jungle.” It is home to giant armadillos, jaguars, pumas, several species of monkeys and birds, according to Cedia, which has been working since 1982 in the Amazon.

“The Sierra del Divisor is the final link in an immense protected area complex that extends for more than 1,100 miles from the banks of the Amazon in Brazil to the snowy peaks of the Peruvian Andes,” said Dr. Paul Salaman, CEO of Rainforest Trust. “After two decades of collaborating with CEDIA to protect indigenous territories and establish nature reserves, parks and sanctuaries throughout the Amazon of Peru, we have finally completed the centerpiece with the declaration of Sierra del Divisor National Park. This permanent conservation corridor is one of the greatest refuges for biodiversity on Earth.

“Protecting the Sierra del Divisor Mountain Range from illegal logging and mining is crucial for endangered wildlife, for indigenous peoples and for the world,” explained Salaman.

Sierra Divisor - lakeIn July this year, the national parks service, Sernanp, reported the first attempts by illegal loggers to build a road into the area.
But its importance is not only as a biodiversity refuge for a changing world but the fact that the area will permit “the capture of some 150,000 tons of C02, which is equivalent to 40% of all the carbon produced every day by Peru,” according to Pulgar-Vidal.

Sierra Divisor - map“We should be proud that Peru has made this great decision,” he said.

The Andes Amazon Fund, which has supported the park initiative, has announced that it is committing $1 million to implement the park.

Adrian Forsyth, executive director of the Andes Amazon Fund, commenting on the event and on the headlines that Peru has created the Yellowstone of the Amazon, said,  “As magnificent and important as Yellowstone is, the newly created Sierra del Divisor is several multiples larger. It’s primary forests are massive and maintain not just immense stores of carbon but are also the ark that will help carry huge amounts of biodiversity through the climate change bottleneck. Thousands of indigenous people now have their ancestral homeland and the natural life support systems that sustain their communities protected by national law. It’s a huge win for the planet!”




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