Manú National Park World Heritage Site
Parc national de Manú, Peru
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Manú National Park is a biosphere reserve located in Madre de Dios and Paucartambo, Cusco. Before becoming an area protected by the Peruvian government, the Manú National Park was conserved thanks to its inaccessibility. The park remains fairly inaccessible by road to this day. In 1977, UNESCO recognised it as a Biosphere Reserve and in 1987, it was pronounced a World Heritage Site. It is the largest National Park in Peru, covering an area of 15,328 km². The Biosphere Reserve includes an additional 2,570 km², and a further 914 km² are included in a "Cultural Zone" (which also is afforded a level of protection), bringing the total area up to 18,811 km².
The park protects several ecological zones ranging from as low as 150 meters above sea level in parts of the Amazon Basin to Puna grassland at altitudes of 4200 meters. Because of this topographical range, it has one of highest levels of biodiversity of any park in the world. Overall, more than 15,000 species of plants are found in Manú, and up to 250 varieties of trees have been found in a single hectare. The reserve is a destination for birdwatchers from all over the world, as it is home to over 1000 species of birds, more than the number of bird species found in the United States and Canada combined. It is also acclaimed as having one of the highest abundances of land vertebrates ever found in Latin American tropical forests .
The park encompasses virtually the entire watershed of the Manú River, from the sources of its tributaries high in the Andes, to its emptying into the Madre de Dios River. As the surrounding area is largely undeveloped, the only direct access to the lowlands is by boat, up the Manú River. This singular entry point is easily patrolled by park guards. The road Cusco-Paucartambo-Shintuya borders the southern section of the park and provides access to high-Andean ecosystems, such as grasslands (puna) and montane forest and scrub.
Manu on GoogleMaps
As with all national parks in Peru, Manú is operated by INRENA, the National Natural Resources Institute (Instituto Nacional de Recursos Naturales).
Permanent human habitation is restricted to several small communities of the Matsigenga Amazonian tribal group, largely along the Manú river or one of its main tributaries. Several protected areas adjoining the park allow mixed use including tourism, hunting, logging, and harvesting of other resources. These areas, notably downstream on the Manú River, are included in the broader Manú biosphere reserve, but are not part of the national park.
Visitors within the national park include medical and educational professionals upon invitation by the indigenous community, and researchers with permits from INRENA. The Cocha Cashu Biological Station, under the guidance of renowned Duke University ecologist John Terborgh is the largest and most established research site in the park, and is among the most well-studied sites for biological and ecological research in the tropics.
The Manu Learning Centre (MLC) lies within the Cultural Zone of the Manu Biosphere Reserve along the South-Eastern border with the Alto Madre de Dios River. The MLC facilitates research work within the disturbed 'buffer' zone of the park where human impact is at its greatest.
More than 20,000 species. 40% of the park is Amazonian lowland tropical rainforest, including varzea, oxbow lakes, Iriartea palm swamps, and upland forest types.
over 800 species of birds
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