Yaguas National Park, Peru

Photo: Andes Amazon Fund

National parks are in trouble. Boundaries are being redrawn. Respected officials are being pushed out. Hiring freezes have resulted in understaffing. Federal protections are being removed. The last few years have been brutal. At least in the United States. Other countries are taking a much different approach.

While the president of the United States is systematically gutting the national parks in his country, Peru is creating new ones. Yaguas National Park was established at the beginning of 2018. It preserves more than two million acres—about the size of Yellowstone National Park—along the Colombia border. This humid area in northeast Peru contains one of the last large intact forests in the world. Its rivers, including the Yaguas and the Putumayo, are tributaries of the mighty Amazon. Six indigenous groups call this biological corridor home. They’re all protected from deforestation and development now.

Yaguas National Park is also home to at least 3,500 types of plants (kapok and sandbox trees), 600 types of birds (blackpoll warblers and summer tanagers), 150 types of animals (giant river otters and South American tapirs), and more than 300 types of fish (Arapaima gigas). No wonder the Quechua people call it Sachamama, which means “mother jungle.”

This remote area is sure to change in the coming years. Its borders may shift. Hotels and tour companies will set up bases along the edges. New species will be discovered. Others will become endangered or even go extinct. But by being set aside as a national park, the land will remain largely undisturbed for generations to come. Bravo, Peru.

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