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Bolivian reserve named hotspot of biodiversity

Monday, December 10, 2012 - 02:44

Dec. 10 - A remote park in northwest Bolivia may be the most biologically diverse place on Earth, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which helped put together a comprehensive list of species found there. The Madidi Reserve was named at a recent meeting of international conservationists who also called for its continued protection.Tara Cleary reports.

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The yellow spider monkey - just one of more than 200 mammal species living in Bolivia's 19,000 square-kilometer Madidi National Park. The preserve is also home to a staggering 11 percent of the world's birds, like the green-winged macaw. It also boasts 300 species of fish, 12,000 different kinds of plants and countless reptiles. All this richness has led scientists to declare that Madidi might be the most biodiverse region on Earth. Located in northwest Bolivia, the park was the subject of an intensive three-year survey by researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Bolivian government agency SERNAP. Head of conservation, Hector Cabrera says the investigation combined all past Madidi studies and has identified more than 200 new species. SOUNDBITE: HECTOR CABRERA, HEAD OF CONSERVATION FOR SERNAP, SAYING (Spanish): "We have been able to solidify all the information gathered about this protected area since the 1970s. This information reveals that Madidi is probably among the world's most biodiverse areas on the planet, not just in Bolivia." The park's range and varying altitudes - from the Amazon lowlands to the Andes mountains - are the reasons for such a wide range of animal and plant life. SERNAP'S Carlos de Ugarte says it's unique. SOUNDBITE: CARLOS DE UGARTE, DIRECTOR OF ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING FOR SERNAP, SAYING: "For us, it is without a doubt a singular place because it shows that Bolivia is a mega-diverse country and shows all the environmental regions of the country in one place. It has all the ecological levels and it's a treasure for Bolivians." And because it's so valuable, the Wildlife Conservation Society is working with local tribes to promote sustainable alternatives to protect the park from illegal mining and logging. SOUNDBITE: HECTOR CABRERA, HEAD OF CONSERVATION FOR SERNAP, SAYING (Spanish): "On the higher part, the mining is what is threatening the protected area. On the lower part, the main threat is the San Buenaventura-Ixiamas highway, which is the northern corridor. The threat is the deforestation that is implied by access to the area." It's a threat that requires constant oversight if the Madidi National Park is to remain Bolivia's - and the world's - most diverse ecosystem.

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Bolivian reserve named hotspot of biodiversity

Monday, December 10, 2012 - 02:44

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