Bolivian park tops in world biodiversity

Sept. 12, 2012 at 3:39 PM

JEJU, South Korea, Sept. 12 (UPI) -- A remote park in northwest Bolivia may be the most biologically diverse place on earth, a conservation conference in South Korea has been told.

A comprehensive list of species found there, presented at the World Conservation Conference in Jeju by the Wildlife Conservation Society, shows Madidi National Park contains 11 percent of the world's birds, more than 200 species of mammals, almost 300 types of fish, and 12,000 plant varieties.

"With Madidi's almost 6,000-meter (19,685 feet) altitudinal range, no other protected area captures the diversity of South American habitats that pushes these numbers through the ceiling," Madidi Landscape Program Director for the WCS, Robert Wallace, said in a society release Wednesday.

The 7,335 square mile park stretches from lowland tropical forests of the Amazon to snow-capped peaks of the High Andes.

A full two-thirds of the park's total biodiversity has yet to be formally registered or observed by scientists, highlighting the need for further research in the region, the WCS said.

"This important compendium emphasizes just how poorly known the cloud forests of the Tropical Andes really are," WCS President Cristian Samper said.

"Apart from their biodiversity and wildlife importance, they are critical from a watershed management perspective and are aesthetically beautiful."

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