Thanks to JoAnna Klein, whose article on a lionfish initiative in Florida a couple years ago put her on our radar; we have linked to her stories many times since. This story below is arguably the most profound, in terms of scale:
While the United States may be weakening protections for wilderness, the creation of Yaguas National Park protects millions of acres from development and deforestation.
The remote rain forests in Peru’s northwest corner are vast — so vast that the clouds that form above them can influence rainfall in the western United States. The region contains species, especially unusual fish, that are unlike any found elsewhere on Earth. Scientists studying the area’s fauna and flora may gain insights into evolutionary processes and into the ecological health and geological history of the Amazon.
Now the area has become home to one of the Western Hemisphere’s newest national parks. Yaguas National Park will protect millions of acres of roadless wilderness — and the indigenous people who rely on it — from development and deforestation.
“This is a place where the forest stretches to the horizon,” said Corine Vriesendorp, a conservation ecologist at The Field Museum in Chicago, one of many organizations that worked to win the national park designation, Peru’s highest level of protection. “This is one of the last great intact forests on the globe.”
The designation stands in contrast to moves in the United States that may weaken protections for wilderness. President Trump has made a priority of scaling back national monuments like Bears Ears in Utah, and many advisers to the National Park System recently quit, citing concerns about the administration’s commitment to environmental protections.
In Peru and elsewhere, political leaders, bolstered by strong civil society initiatives, are recognizing the current effects of climate change and their role in mitigating them in the future. They are setting aside large parcels of land in part to fulfill commitments made as part of the Paris climate agreement. And local and indigenous groups, finally getting a legal say in the process, have also provided critical support.
More than 1,000 people, belonging to at least six indigenous groups, live along a 125-mile stretch of the Yaguas and Putumayo rivers. To them, this place is “sachamama,” a Quechua word roughly meaning “mother jungle,” the sacred heart of the area that produces the flora and fauna on which the groups depend…
Read the whole article here.