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Biodiversity in Peru and the Cordillera Blanca

According to the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (1997), Peru is recognized as one of the twelve mega-diverse countries of the world thanks to its location and complex geography. The Andes rise from sea level up to 6,767 m. in the Cordillera Blanca, the highest tropical mountain range in the world and the Andean mountain range is a geographical barrier to the tropical rainforest to the east. Ocean currents, such as the tropical northern sea and the cold waters of the Peruvian contribute to the high climatic variability of the 16 bio-geographical regions of the Peruvian landscape.

Huascarán National Park contains most of the 6,000+ meter peaks within the Cordillera Blanca range and is noted for its spectacular mountain scenery, cultural richness and biological diversity. With elevations ranging from 2,800 meters to 6,768 meters above sea level, the topography varies to include permanent ice and snow, 663 glaciers, tundra, 296 lakes, and 41 rivers.

[...]The local population around the Park still maintains many of the traditional characteristics of Andean culture, including their native language, Quechua. Archaeological sites still awaiting research include rock paintings, walkways, trails, dwellings, tombs, forts, irrigation canals, micro-dams and others. Seven life zones within the Park create varied microclimates that provide habitats for an impressive diversity of flora and fauna. A study of high Andean flora by Dr. David Smith documented the existence of 104 families, 340 genus and 779 species of plants, notable among which is the Puya Raimondi that exhibits the world's largest flower cluster, reaching heights of up to twelve meters. Preliminary fauna studies have identified 112 species of birds and 10 mammals, including Bespectacled Bears, Vicuņas, Andean Condors, Vizcachas and Gray Deer. The Park, under the administration of the governmental agency INRENA, has to meet a complex agenda to achieve both its conservation mandates while incorporating local uses in sustainable way. The territory of the Park has been used since ancestral times by local inhabitants who have transformed over thousands of years the originally forested landscape into an open range ecosystem dominated by the glacial peaks.

Source: The Mountain Institute

The Secretariat report concludes that preservation and protection of Peru's biodiversity, the control of terrestrial erosion and air quality, as well as water conservation will help to alleviate the extreme poverty of at least 50% of the population and importantly, the report goes on to report that the extensive bio-diverse plant world provides medicines for almost 80% of the population.

The report also details unified Environmental Code in written in 1990 (Decree 613) and the series of laws written between 1990 and 1997 and states that the most important to be signed into law is The Law on the Conservation and Use of Biodiversity. These laws govern The Huascarán National Park and Biosphere Reserve.

Vicos is situated on the western flank of the Cordillera Blanca, and is an important source of water for the region and the desert coast. Because of the cultural and biological diversity of this area, the Huascarán National Park (HNP) was created by the Peruvian State in 1975 and was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. In 1977 UNESCO and the Peruvian State established the Huascarán Biosphere Reserve (HBR) to include the national park and surrounding areas.