World’s largest protected wetland area established in Bolivia

Forging “a truly harmonious relationship” with Mother Earth is at the core of the Bolivian government’s creation of a new protected wetland – an area bigger than the Netherlands and Belgium combined – making it the largest of its kind in the world

The Bolivian government has designated wetlands, the combined size of the Netherlands and Belgium, to be a protected area.

In conjunction with the Ramsar Convention, the Bolivian government allowed Llanos de Moxos, near the borders of Bolivia, Peru and Brazil, to be deemed a conservation area to mark World Wetlands Day.

The Ramsar Convention is an international treaty signed by 164 countries and its mission is to conserve wetlands, which are classed as areas that are saturated with water permanently or for part of the year.

In declaring Llanos de Moxos a conservation area, it has become the largest area of protected wetlands in the world: a site of more than 6.9m hectares, which is home to 131 species of mammal, 568 bird species, 102 species of reptiles and hundreds of plant species.

The World Wildlife Fund greeted the announcement with enthusiasm, saying the move helps to protect the Amazon region.

“WWF applauds the government of Bolivia for taking bold action to protect these vital ecosystems,” said Jim Leape, WWF international director general. “The Amazon basin, covering nine countries, supports native species and the millions of people who live there – and plays an essential role in regulating the climate we all depend on.”

Llanos de Moxos has become the ninth wetlands conservation area in Bolivia to be protected by the Ramsar Convention.

Bolivian deputy minister for the environment, Juan Pablo Cardozo Arnez, said the government recognises the significance of the wetlands.

“We are proud to confirm to the world that the government of Bolivia is committed, in collaboration with social actors, to assuming the preservation of these areas as evidence of our efforts to achieve development for all our citizens.

“This is an important step as we continue to forge a truly harmonious relationship between our peoples and Mother Earth,” he said.