Peru’s economic future depends on its biodiversity

Corey Watts

World Biodiversity Day, May 22, aims to get Peruvians active and aware about the incredible, unique biodiversity. Not least because nearly a quarter of the country’s economy relies on it.

Peru’s economic future depends on its biodiversity

Camino de Colonos Seen at the Huampal site, Parque Nacional Yanachaga-Chemillén, Pasco, Peru (Photo: Geoff Gallice/Flickr)

According to the Ministry of Environment, at least 22 per cent of Peru’s economy is tied to its biodiversity.

May 22 is International Biodiversity Day, with the United Nations saying Peru is one of the world’s top-10 “megadiverse” countries.

The four main elements of the Peruvian landscape—the sea, the desert, the mountains, and the forest—give rise to a bewildering array of plants and animals,

Only Colombia and Brazil harbour a richer assemblage of plants and animals. Many native species are found nowhere else on the planet.

Scientists say that biodiversity is not just picturesque, it also provides goods and services that underpin economic development, including soil fertility, natural pest control, freshwater supply, crop pollination, food, medicines, and tourism.

The Sacred Valley and the Amazon, for example, are among the top reasons why international visitors come to Peru.

According to the Ministry of Environment, Peru’s conservation reserves received more than 50,000 visitors during Easter alone—23 per cent more than in 2014.

And then there is agricultural biodiversity: of the 5,000 or so varieties of potato in the world, Peru is home to more than 3,000. Agricultural exports from Peru now exceed US$ 5 billion.

Earning the country nearly US$ 2.5 billion in 2014, about 15 per cent of annual global fish catch is caught off the Peruvian coast, where the Humboldt Current gives rise to marine life unsurpassed on Earth.

A third of the country is covered in forest, which generates up to half of its own rainfall.

Just short of 7 billion tonnes of carbon is stored in the Peruvian Amazon. Around 800 million tonnes could be lost if logging and oil extraction are not curbed, accelerating global warming.

Biodiversity Day aims to raise interest and awareness of Peru’s biodiversity and sustainable development depends on it.

See here for more details of Biodiversity Day celebrations and activities coming up in your neighbourhood.

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