Parque Nacional Güeppí Sekime

Peru: new national park and two communal reserves consolidate an international conservation corridor

Teófilo Torres couldn’t hide his joy. Being Head of the Gueppi Reserved Zone, he knows, like no one else does, how hard it’s been to consolidate the conservation of this outstanding natural area, which since this afternoon it’s been recognized as a national park and two communal reserves.

“I want to share really good news for conservation, for the country, its territory and the people who inhabit it;  three new protected areas have been created: the Gueppí Sekime National Park, the Huimeki  Community Reserve and the Airo Pai Community Reserve”, stated the Minister of the Environment Manuel Pulgar Vidal during a press conference held today. “These areas have been created over what was known as the Gueppi Reserved Zone, and together they comprise 592,700 ha destined to conservation”.

As the reserved zone’s leader, Teófilo has worked side by side with representatives from close to 30 indigenous communities (including the kichwa, secoya and huitoto ethnic groups), tackling illegal logging and poaching, and supporting Gueppi’s definitive categorization. Thus, the celebration is huge, since a national park implies the strictest protection any protected area can aspire to, which guarantees the conservation of Gueppi.

 “The Huimeki Communal Reserve conserves biodiversity in favor of kichwa and huitoto populations, which in the past have been decimated during the rubber rush, and the Airo Pai Community Reserve benefits both biodiversity and secoya populations”, concluded Minister Pulgar Vidal, after referring to the relevance of this announcement under the framework of Peru’s commitments with the Convention on Biological Diversity.

This long process began in 1997, when the Reserved Zone was created in the border with Colombia and Ecuador. This provisional designation acknowledged the national interest towards protecting both the natural and cultural values of the area, but left it in an uncertain and vulnerable situation.

In this context, the announcement today by Prime Minister Juan Jiménez and the Minister of the Environment Manuel Pulgar Vidal, has been the best possible news for the local population, but also for neighboring countries Ecuador and Colombia which ministers signed an agreement, in 2011, aimed at consolidating the conservation of one of the most important international biological corridors throughout the Amazon, along the Putumayo River in all three countries.

“The definitive categorization of the GRZ is an achievement not only in favor of biodiversity conservation, but in favor of the local population as well, which is currently committed to working side by side with the national parks service SERNANP. It also consolidates a joint effort with Ecuador and Colombia towards the articulated management of the La Paya-Gueppí-Cuyabeno corridor under the framework of the Tri-national Program. Thus, it is a decision that deserves all our support and fills us with joy”, says WWF’s Biologist Johana Deza, Coordinator in Peru, of the Putumayo Tres Fronteras Project, an important initiative funded by the European Union and WWF Germany, which supports this tri-national effort.