Location and Values: Río Abiseo National Park is located on the eastern slopes of the Andes in northern Peru, covering an exceptionally wide range of altitude (from 350 to 4,349m). It is a mixed site of outstanding importance for its biodiversity, which also protects a number of important recently-discovered archaeological sites covering 8,000 years of human settlement.
The park’s importance for biodiversity is derived from the complexity of its habitats, with about a quarter of the area lying in the puna grassland zone of the high Andes, while half of it (on the Andean slopes) is covered in cloud forest and the remainder comprises sub-montane and lowland rainforest. Research suggests that the exceptional present-day biodiversity values of this comparatively small area may also be due to its role as a ‘refuge’ for forest species during the last ice age when forests elsewhere disappeared under changing climatic conditions. This ‘Huallaga Pleistocene Refugium’ allowed forest-adapted species to survive the ice age here, and for the processes of adaptation and evolution to continue uninterrupted. The park’s flora and fauna includes a large number of endemic species, with at least seven species of mammal and six birds threatened with extinction (most notably the yellow-tailed woolly monkey, recently re-discovered and known only from Rio Abiseo).
Conservation Status and Prospects. According to IUCN’s Conservation Outlook Assessment (2017) the conservation status of Río Abiseo National Park is ‘good, with some concerns’. The IUCN report notes that Rio Abiseo National Park is well preserved and none of the values for which it was recognized as a world natural heritage site has been altered: biodiversity and endemic or threatened species remain well preserved, the functioning of ecosystems continues to be natural, landscapes remain intact and the cultural and archaeological values are well protected. But there is concern for the future. Although the Park remains in good condition, the management could be much better prepared to address present and future threats. The main problem is the chronic budget shortfall, and the need for additional personnel, better training and, especially, better and more intense interaction with local communities.
UNESCO Official Website
IUCN Conservation Outlook
UNEP-WCMC Site Description