Peru celebrates World Environment Day with new Ramsar site
The Convention on Wetlands now covers over 100 million hectares
The secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971) is delighted to announce that, on the occasion of World Environment Day, 5 June 2002, the wetlands included in the List of Wetlands of International Importance have now surpassed 100,000,000 hectares (one million square kilometres). In designating their wetlands for the Ramsar List, the Parties to the Convention commit themselves to managing them sustainably and practicing the "wise use principle" in utilizing their abundant resources. There are presently 131 Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention, and they have designated 1173 wetlands, ranging from 1 hectare to nearly 7 million hectares, from marshes and fens to oases in arid lands, from peat bogs and intertidal mudflats to coral reefs and lakes, for the Ramsar List.
The Government of Peru, embodied by the Convention's implementing agency in that country, the Instituto Nacional de Recursos Naturales (INRENA), has chosen to celebrate World Environment Day by making this commitment to sustainable use for a vast complex of rivers and streams, lakes, marshes, and swamp forests in the upper Amazon region. The new Ramsar site, known as Complejo de humedales del Abanico del río Pastaza in Loreto department, covers more than 3.8 million hectares, bringing the total surface area that has been brought under the Ramsar umbrella around the world to 101,078,389 hectares. Peru now has 8 Ramsar sites covering 6,759,388 hectares, a greater Ramsar area than any other nations except Canada, Russia, and Botswana.
Complejo de humedales del Abanico del río Pastaza (centered at 04°00'S 075°25'W) is an enormous alluvial fan composed of volcanic sediments brought down from the Andes of Ecuador and deposited along the river Pastaza and associated streams and secondary rivers leading to the river Marañon. The site contains an extraordinary diversity of both permanent and seasonal wetland types, with abundant lakes and remnant islands. Some 9 species of fauna from CITES Appendix I are supported, as well as 70 from Appendix II, and 17 species found in IUCN's Red List are present. Parts of the site near the river Urituyacu are particularly important for the palms Phytelephas tenuicaulis and Aphandra natalia, and the Pastaza supports a large population of the palm Elaeis oleifera, seen only a few places elsewhere in Peru. Nearly 300 species of fish have been recorded. Human occupation, largely restricted to the banks of the principal rivers, is a low-density mix of indigenous and settler communities who cultivate banana, cassava, and maize. Studies of the area by WWF Perú and the Centro de Datos para la Conservación of the Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina facilitated the preparation of the site's designation.
All members of the Ramsar family join in welcoming this significant new addition to the List, the more so because, by bringing the Convention over 100 million hectares, it makes a particularly auspicious contribution to World Environment Day.