LIMA, Peru – Peru is creating a national park to protect a vast territory in the Amazon basin that is vulnerable to drug trafficking and illegal logging and mining, the country’s environment minister said Saturday.
Called the Sierra del Divisor National Park, it covers an area of about 14,170 square kilometers (5,470 square miles) in a region inhabited by a variety of indigenous communities living in self-imposed isolation.
Peru’s President Ollanta Humala will travel to the region Sunday to sign a decree creating the park, Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar Vidal said on his Twitter account.
The park has an estimated 3,000 species of plants and animals, many of them found nowhere else in the world, according to the government.
The announcement comes just three weeks ahead of a U.N. summit aimed at sealing a global pact on climate change.
Advocates of the new park have said it will enable the capture of 150,000 tons of CO2, the equivalent of nearly 40 percent of Peru’s daily carbon output.
Sierra del Divisor has been a protected zone since April 2006. Since then, the communities living there have lobbied for its designation as a national park to stiffen legal protections against encroachment by loggers, miners and drug traffickers.
Sierra del Divisor is the second national park created since Humala took office in 2011, after the Gueppi National Park, a 6,260-square-kilometer expanse centered on the Gueppi River in southeastern Peru.