On June 6, 2006 the Brazilian government announced the creation of new protected areas in the Amazon region totaling approximately 6.2 million acres. 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. However, the ecosystem is severely threatened by illegal logging, slash-and-burn agriculture and other human activities, and forests are being destroyed at an alarming rate.
Since 2002, WWF, the Brazilian government, the World Bank, Global Environment Facility (GEF), German Development Bank (KFW), and Brazilian Biodiversity Fund (FUNBIO) have worked in partnership on one of the world's most ambitious conservation projects, the Amazon Region Protected Area (ARPA), to create a system of approximately 80 reserves and parks by 2010. This will result in more than 190,000 square miles of protected Amazonian rainforest - an area larger than the state of California.
The recent decree by the Brazilian government is a big step forward in protecting the Amazon's rainforest and a significant accomplishment supporting ARPA's overall goal. The Juruena National Park established under the decree, is the third largest park in Brazil 4.7 million acres following Tumucumaque National Park 9.6 million acres) and Jau National Park (5.7 million acres) which were established earlier under ARPA. Juruena National Park is one of the last conservation units needed to implement the Conservation Corridor of Southern Amazon, a mosaic of units that will help contain the process of degradation in the Amazon. The decree also established Rio Iriri Extractive Reserve, an additional 1 million acres adjacent to Terra do Meio.