Though Brazil has the highest number of national parks, only 2.968% of its land area is occupied by the parks. South America accounts for over 40% of the earth’s biodiversity, thanks to ecological hotspots such as the Amazon Forest and the Andes Mountain Range. The region boasts wide expanses of wild areas, woodlands, wetlands, mountains, and forests as well as rich flora and fauna. This extraordinary wealth in natural resources has rendered South America vulnerable to environmental threats. Woodlands continue to face degradation to satiate the demand for agriculture and human settlement. Other threats include climate change, resource extraction, infrastructure development, and logging. Conservation efforts are thus necessitated in the region, which lags behind on preservation policies.
Top 3 South American Countries With The Highest Number Of National Parks
Brazil tops the list with a total of 68 national parks. The first national park to begin operations in the country was the Itatiaia National Park in 1937. The national parks in Brazil protect natural features such as rainforests, canyons, cliffs, mountains, waterfalls, beaches, sand dunes, wetlands, and rock formations. The parks are home to exotic animal species including the jaguar, guara wolves, armadillo, tapirs, and monkeys. National parks are regularly established in Brazil in a bid to protect the country’s natural scenery, biodiversity, and natural wealth. Brazil’s natural richness is a major driver of the lucrative tourism sector, with the most popular parks being the Tijuca National Park, Iguaçu National Park, Brasilia National Park, and the Serra dos Orgăos National Park.
Colombia clinches the second spot with a total of 59 national parks covering an area of 14,268,224 hectares. The country’s oldest national park was established in 1960 as the Cueva de Los Guácharos National Park. The parks protect Colombia’s unique biodiversity, which is about 10% of the world’s biodiversity. The country ranks top on account of bird and orchid biodiversity. A further 314 different ecosystems support a rich flora and fauna as well as other natural resources. The national parks act as protection from environmental threats including deforestation, human encroachment, urban development, and mining.
Venezuela prides in 43 national parks, and it is listed as the 9th country in the world in order of biodiversity. The Henri Pittier National Park, which began operations in 1937, is the nation’s oldest national park. The Parima Tapirapecó National Park extends over an area of 38,290 km2 to be Venezuela’s largest national park. National parks occupy about 21.76% of Venezuela’s total area, and they serve to protect the country’s natural resources which include the Amazon basin, Andes Mountains, and the Caribbean coast.
Other South American Countries With High Numbers Of National Parks
Other countries in South America and their respective number of national parks are Chile (36); Argentina (33); Bolivia (17); Paraguay (16); Ecuador (11); Peru (11); Uruguay (7), and Guyana. Biodiversity protection in South America remains critical due to the region’s natural wealth. While some countries are making significant strides in conservation, other countries are lagging behind and continue to be overwhelmed by numerous biodiversity threats.