Amazon basin

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                       Peruvian Amazon basin

More than half of the country is full-blown rainforest, and levels of biodiversity are truly out of this World. The Amazon is a place of huge rivers, farflung forests, undiscovered mysteries, and the source of legends since the first Europeans encountered it. The widespread forest destruction that has occurred in other parts of the Amazon Basin have not yet occurred in Peru. The Peruvian portion of the Amazon is still largely intact. The Andes Mountains pose a formidable barrier to the construction of roads and railways, and  heavy rains on the eastern slopes of the mountains frequently wash out roads and bridges.

Many NGOs are currently working to promote conservation of Peru's rainforest, and the government of Peru does recognize this region like a genetic source and the natural importance for their future, but often does not have the necessary resources to do all that it would like to do to conserve and sustainably develop the region.

Peru has 84 of the Planet's recognised 104 life zones and has more species of bird and butterflies than any other country. Abundance of species along a the embarrassment of work in rainforest, has produced that there arenīt complete researchs about all insects living in this habitat, some researchs has made amazing issues; for example, a single tree in Tambopata was found to harbour more ant species than are found in the whole of the British Isles, and the peruvian entomologist Gerardo Lamas  found in just 5 km2 1300 different species of butterflies.

The most rich documented fauna of butterflies in the world is peruvian, actually 3800 species have been confirmed in this country and there are an estimate of at least 4200 species are living inside national boundary.  (Gerardo Lamas, 2000). Fitth of the all world butterflies and half of  tropical butterflies live in Peru.



                                   Amazonian photos  


The Amazon Basin (the area drained by the river)


• Covers some 7.5 million square kilometres – an area almost as big as Australia – in six different countries (Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela).

• Is the wettest region on earth, with an average rainfall of 2.54 metres per year.

• Contains the largest flood-plain forest in the world, covering two per cent of the forest area.


• Is surrounded by one of the youngest rock formations on earth (the Andes Mountains) to the west and two of the oldest (the Guyana and Brazilian Shields) to the north and south.


• Has very poor soil: 90 per cent suffers from phosphorous deficiency, 50 per cent from low potassium reserves and 24 per cent from low drainage or flood hazards


• Makes up one third of the world’s remaining tropical rainforest.

• Has 30 per cent of all known plant and animal species.


• Contains 80,000 known, and at least 10,000 unknown species of tree.

• Has a density of between 100 and 300 tree species per hectare of forest (temperate forests have between five and ten).

In the Amazon there are:

• One fifth of the world’s bird species in scarcely one fiftieth of its land surface.

• Several million animal species, mostly insects: one tree stump in Peru was found to house more ant species than the whole of the UK.

• 2,000 known species of fresh water fish, or ten times as many as in the whole of Europe. 3,000 known species of land vertebrates.

The river

• Is the largest river system in the world: four times larger than the Zaire (the second largest), eleven times larger than the Mississippi.

• Disgorges 198,000 cubic metres of water per second – enough to fill Lake Ontario in three hours.


• Contains one fifth of the world’s fresh water – or two-thirds excluding water locked in polar ice caps.


• Flows a distance of 6,762 kilometres from its source in the Peruvian Andes to its mouth – equal to the distance between London and New Delhi.

• Has 10,000 tributaries totalling 80,000 kilometres in length which would stretch twice round the Equator.


• Provides 24,000 kilometres of navigable ‘trunk’ waterway – ocean-going ships can penetrate up the Amazon a distance equivalent to crossing the North Atlantic.

new internationalist
issue 219 - May 1991