Priority Sites in Latin America
Eastern Slopes of the Andes
Priority Sites for Conservation in Latin America > Summary
In a study of five Latin American ecoregions of global importance, scientists from the NatureServe network of conservation data centers have identified high-priority unprotected sites in each ecoregion that need immediate conservation attention.
NatureServe's member programs in Panama (ANCON), Colombia
(Corporación Valle del Cauca), Ecuador (Alianza Jatun Sacha/CDC-Ecuador),
Peru (Universidad Agraria La Molina), Bolivia (TROPICO) and Paraguay (Secretaría
del Ambiente, CDC-Paraguay) collaborated with The Nature Conservancy to conduct
a rigorous scientific study to identify critical sites for conservation in Latin
America. We focused on five high-priority ecoregions including the Biogeographic
Choco, the eastern slopes of the Andes in Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, the Peruvian
Yungas, the Bolivian Yungas, and the Dry Chaco. The priority conservation sites
and management alternatives highlighted by this study are based on the best
available scientific informationmuch of it available for the first time.
The three-year project was completed in September 2003.
Based on an analysis that emphasized areas with unique biological features that are not yet represented within parks and other protected areas, we identified the following five high priority sites:
- Choco (Panama, Colombia, and Ecuador):
Within this otherwise
humid ecoregion, the Dagua Valley is an isolated area of drier habitats that
support many endemic species. There is also intense human pressure from agricultural
- Eastern Slopes of the Andes (Colombia,
Ecuador, and Peru): Shuar Indigenous Area of Tsurakú.
This area is of outstanding biological value
because it contains the highest concentrations of mahogany remaining in Ecuador.
Unregulated logging of the mahogany is a serious problem, as is over-exploitation
of hunted species by the native Shuar people. Shuar community leaders are
very interested in developing management alternatives that maintain the region's
- Peruvian Yungas (Peru): Cloud
Forests of Alto Huallaga. This region contains one of the highest concentrations
of endemic monkeys in the world (three endemic species), and it serves as
a natural corridor between the Abiseo River Protected Area to the north and
the Tingo María National Park to the south. Threats include agricultural
encroachment from the lowlands and mining in the higher mountains.
- Bolivian Yungas (Bolivia): Irupana
This area of Bolivia is very rich
in species and ecosystems because it contains a mosaic of vegetation types
that range from very dry to extremely humid. Because of its proximity to La
Paz, the area is experiencing intense colonization pressure related to mining.
Secondary impacts from the mining communities include deforestation, excessive
erosion, and water pollution.
- Dry Chaco (Bolivia and Paraguay):
This area in extreme northeastern Paraguay contains a variety of unique dry-vegetation types as
well as several endemic species, and rests atop one of the largest sub-surface
aquifers in South America. Human impacts are still relatively localized. However,
the fragile nature of these dry habitats leave the area vulnerable to poor
agricultural practices and overexploitation of the aquifer.
Read about the study's methods.