On June 6, 2006, the Brazilian government announced the creation of protected areas of the Amazon rainforest totaling 6.2 million acres, including The Juruena National Park, now the third-largest park in Brazil.

The Amazon is the world’s largest river basin and the source of one-fifth of the earth’s fresh water. It has the world’s highest diversity of birds and freshwater fish, as well as the planet’s largest rainforest, which is home to more than one third of all species.

A partnership began in 2002, between the World Wildlife Fund, the Brazilian government, the World Bank, Global Environment Facility (GEF), German Development Bank (KFW), and the Brazilian Biodiversity Fund (FUNBIO) to administer one of the world’s most ambitious conservation projects, the Amazon Region Protected Area (ARPA). The project will create a system of 80 reserves and parks by 2010 protecting rainforest over more than 190,000 square miles — an area larger than the state of California.

The Amazon’s ecosystem currently is threatened by illegal logging, slash-and-burn agriculture and other human activities, and forests are being destroyed at an alarming rate.

Brazil’s decree was a big step in the ARPA plan. It established The Juruena National Park, the third-largest park in Brazil (4.7 million acres) and the Rio Iriri Extractive Reserve, an additional 1 million acres adjacent to Terra do Meio.

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