Native Village 
Youth and Education News

April 1, 2013

Bolivia designates world’s largest protected wetland
Condensed by Native Village

Bolivia:  Ramsar Convention on Wetlands  has designated its largest site ever. At more than 6,900,000 hectares, the Llanos de Moxos wetland is nearly as large as North Dakota. The wetlands are prized for their rich natural diversity, as well as their cultural value.

Llanos de Moxos is located near the borders of Bolivia, Peru and Brazil and consists of tropical savannas with cyclical droughts and floods. The region is traversed by three major rivers, the Beni in the west, the Iténez or Guaporé to the east, and the Mamoré in the central region. These rivers converge to form the Madeira River, the major southern tributary of the Amazon River.

The Llanos de Moxos wetlands are especially prized for their rich natural diversity. Identified to date are at least:

131 species of mammals
625 species of  fish

102 species of reptiles

62 species of amphibians

568 species of  birds
1,000 species of plant species.

Several species – including the giant otter and the Bolivian river dolphin – have been identified as vulnerable, endangered or at critical risk of extinction

“[World Wildlife Fund] applauds the government of Bolivia for taking bold action to protect these vital ecosystems,” said Jim Leape, WWF International Director General. “The Amazon basin, covering nine countries, supports native species and the millions of people who live there – and plays an essential role in regulating the climate we all depend on. Healthy wetlands support the proper functioning of the whole Amazon.”

The Llanos de Moxos wetlands help avoid floods, maintain river flows during the dry season, and regulate the area's hydrological cycle.  

The Llanos de Moxos region was inhabited by pre-Columbian cultures from 800 B.C. - 1200 A.D. Historically, they're known as the “Moxos water-based cultures.” These ancient peoples cleverly used hydraulic infrastructures to manage water for the intensive agricultural production on which the tribes survived.

Today the wetlands area is sparsely populated. It includes only 7 indigenous territories, 8 protected areas, and a few peasant communities and private properties.

Ramsar Convention
The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance is an intergovernmental treaty, signed by 160 countries in 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar. The Ramsar Convention’s mission is the conservation and wise use of wetlands, with the goal of achieving sustainable development.

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