geography varies greatly responsible for the rich biological, cultural, and
landscape diversity of the country. Traditionally, Peru is divided in three
geographic regions: the Pacific coast, the Andean range, and the Amazon basin.
Each of these regions has its own characteristics, values, and unique beauty.
The coast is approximately 3,000 km long and its predominately desert landscape
extends 137,000 km². The Andean region occupies 409,000 km². Its highest
peak is the snow-capped Huascarán that reaches to an elevation of 6,760
meters above sea (more than 22,000 feet). The Andean region includes mountainous
ranges, high plateaus, and valleys. The Amazon makes up 60% of Peru's territory
and extends 740,000 km². The Peruvian Amazon is drained by several large
rivers and contains large expanses of intact forest.
There are 11 bioregions found in Peru,
due to both the varied geography and climate. These include: cold Pacific Ocean,
with whales and guano-producing seabirds; warm tropical sea along the northern
coast with mangroves; coastal desert with small valleys, hills, and sand; dry
tropical forest; coastal tropical forest; steep highlands of the western Andes
with guanacos and vizcachas; the puna with pajonales and high Andean lagoons,
llamas and vicuñas; highland forests of the eastern Andes with cloud
forests habitat to the spectacled bear and the Andean "Cock-of-the-Rock";
lowland Amazonian forest with large rivers, lakes, and forests.
Peru is one of the most biologically
diverse countries in the world. There are 472 mammal species, of which 164 are
bats and 32 are primates. Twenty percent of all bird species fly through Peru.
There are many endemic species and even many species still undiscovered.
Peru has important intact tropical forests, snow-covered mountains,
pristine lakes, and an extensive coast along a highly productive sea. Because
of its rich natural resource base, sustainable development is a necessity for
Peru. However, human activities are currently conducting to severe environmental
degradation through deforestation, soil erosion, overuse of resources, and pollution.
Despite the fact that there is abundant
environmental legislation, there are still contradictions in the development
policies, which are based on taking full advantage of the natural resources.
In addition, low quality of life for the majority of Peruvians and the lack
of attention given to environmental concerns by the industrial and political
entities contributes to make matters worse. This situation is further compounded
by a limited technological capacity, weak organizations, and lack of power by
those entities promoting sustainable development and conservation.
National System of Protected Areas
The National System of Protected Areas
(SINANPE) is made up of a variety of management categories, according to the
creation objectives of each protected area. The Natural
Protected Areas Administration of the Natural
Resources Institute (INRENA), part of the Ministry of Agriculture, is responsible
for the administration and management of the protected areas system. Its policies
are based on the Natural Protected Areas Law and related regulations. INRENA
is represented throughout the country and has received recognition by the sectors
involved in natural resource management and nature protection.
Over the last years, several important
protected areas have been established, and better management has been put into
place for many existing protected areas. Despite these efforts, the system still
presents some major deficiencies. The principal one is lack of financing, which
limits implementation and effective control of protected areas. Lack of infrastructure
and staff training affects the ability of the system to function properly. Lack
of interinstitutional coordination confuses responsibilities, puts sectoral
interests before others, and does not facilitate resolution to conflicts.
With the new regional governmental structure
that Peru is adopting, the future of natural resource management and of the
country's vast expanses of primary forests is quite unclear. It is possible
that the regional govenments establish new protected areas and improve their
management, but it is also conceivable that the regional governments decide
to allow more resource extraction, exploitation of existing protecting areas,
or extend the road network to the interiors of the forest...