The new reserve--supporting a number of local communities that are now stewards of their own resources--is a tribute to the leadership of the late Dr. Jos Mrcio Ayres, a forest ecologist for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) who succumbed to lung cancer earlier this year at the age of 49.
"These new reserves represent a giant step towards saving the very heart of the Amazon," said Dr. Steven Sanderson, president of the Wildlife Conservation Society and delegate at the World Parks Congress, where conservation leaders are now searching for ways to blend protected areas with indigenous benefits. "Piagau-Purus in particular uses the same model developed by Dr. Ayres in the Mamirau and Aman Sustainable Development Reserves, where residents balance conservation and development in a manner we should all strive to achieve. These reserves realize his vision."
Dr. Ayres developed the proposals that form the underpinnings of the Mamirau and Aman Reserves, both of which were designated as a World Heritage Site shortly after he passed away. At some 2.5 million acres in size, the Piagau-Purus Sustainable Development Reserve contains a number of different ecosystems, including a large swath of vrzea, a type of forest that is seasonally inundated by the Purus River, a tributary of the larger Solimes-Amazonas System. In addition to supporting important populations of giant otter, manatee and river dolphin, the reserve is a highly productive area for fishing and agricultural activities, both of which have the potential to improve and maintain the quality of life for the reserve's local people.
"Implementing sustainable development models that work is the key to saving wildlife and people." sai
Contact: Stephen Sautner
Wildlife Conservation Society