We don’t often get good news. Our world is usually populated with stories about deforestation and disaster. So it’s lovely to be able to talk about an incredibly important milestone for the Amazon itself and for rainforest conservatoin everywhere.
The Serrania del Chiribiquete, in Colombia, has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, who have recognised its outstanding universal value to nature and people. Now it’s the world’s biggest tropical rainforest national park, a huge effort that has taken decades of hard work by environmentalists and conservationists to bring to fruition.
The protected area is home to an impressive 3000 or more types of animals and plants, and is now twice as large as it originally was. In a world where 33% of so-called protected areas remain threatened by human activities, it’s a vital development.
Chiribiquete is incredibly remote. There have been many years of armed conflict in the area, which has made life tricky for scientists and conservationists. The sheer, remarkable biodiversity of the regon is down to its location, a magical place where four very different geographic regions – the Amazon, Andean, Orinoco and Guyanas – meet. All this makes the news a defining moment in the good fight.
Chiribiquete is not only a biological, cultural, hydrological and archaeological treasure. It’s also vitally important to the indigenous people – some still uncontacted – who live in the area. Colombia’s forests, like all rainforests, remain threatened by deforestation to make way for agriculture, industry and settlement, and climate change continues apace, but the news represents a considerable positive step in the right direction.
The new park includes areas with very highest deforestation rates, so it’s hopeful that the news will help stop the timber and illegal crop trade in its tracks. It’s wonderful to see the Colombian government taking such an important step towards protecting the region, against a landscape where, all too often, government inaction, corruption and short-term thinking are at the forefront of the destruction.