The city of Iquitos was the scene of colourful celebrations yesterday as the Peruvian rainforest region kicked off a weekend of festivities to mark the Official Inauguration later today of the Amazon as one of the New7Wonders of Nature. Among those attending today’s event will be Ollanta Humala, President of Peru, Iván Vásquez, President of the Loreto Region, Bernard Weber, Founder-President of New7Wonders, and Jean Paul de la Fuente, Director of New7Wonders.
An estimated 80,000 people took part in yesterday’s events in Iquitos. The 20km-long parade included an array of colourful floats, many of which featured representatives of the indigenous rainforest communities.
“It was great to see the passion of thousands of people who voted for the Amazon,” said Bernard Weber, Founder of New7Wonders, speaking to journalists in Iquitos. “What we saw today was a prime example of our belief that participation is the basis for development,” he added.
These sentiments were echoed by Iván Vásquez, who emphasized the benefits that are expected to flow from sustainable development now the Amazon has been listed as one of the New7Wonders of Nature. “Ours is a commitment to safeguard this ecosystem for the world,” he said. “As the owners of this space, we are committed to productive conservation.” Pointing out that 250,000 people visited the region last year and that the goal is 500,000 in the next two years, he declared that the combination of productive conservation and sustainable development will reduce poverty in the region.
The Amazon region contains more than half of the world’s remaining rainforests. The river’s basin encompasses seven million square kilometers (1.7 billion acres), of which five and a half million square kilometers are covered by rainforest. The majority of this species-rich forest is contained within Brazil and Peru.