The Central Amazon Conservation Complex makes up the largest protected area in the Amazon Basin and is one of the planet’s richest regions in terms of biodiversity. It is where the majority of the ecosystems recorded in the Amazon are found.
The Central Amazon Conservation Complex is located west-northwest of Manaus, the capital of Brazil's Amazonas state, between the Solimoes and Negro Rivers — two of the major tributaries of the Amazon watershed.
This site of nearly 15 million acres (6 million ha) is the largest protected area in the Amazon Basin and one of the richest areas of the planet in terms of biodiversity.
Jaú National Park was inscribed in 2000 and the property was subsequently expanded in 2003 with the addition of three other protected areas (Anavilhanas National Park, Amanã Sustainable Development Reserve, and Mamairauá Sustainable Development Reserve).
The classification of these four sites developed into the current World Heritage property entitled "Central Amazon Conservation Complex" and are also part of the Central Amazon Biosphere Reserve (see below).
Jaú National Park: is the largest forest reserve in South America. The park is in the Amazon biome in the Japurá-Solimões-Negro moist forests ecoregion. It covers an area of 5,849,810 acres (2,367,333 ha) and covers parts of the municipalities of Barcelos, Codajás and Novo Airão in the state of Amazonas. It is about 140 mi (220 km) northwest of Manaus and contains the entire Jaú River basin. The park's terrain is representative of the Negro-Solimões interfluvial plateau. It has two main areas: the Trombetas/Negro plateau and the lower western Amazon plateau.
Vegetation types are dense rain forest (77%), open rain forest (14%), transition from rain forest to campinarana (7%) and campinarana (2%). Botanists have cataloged about 400 plant species, several of which are restricted to certain environments such as the uplands and the flooded areas. 263 species of fish have been recorded, some new to science. Protected species in the park include the margay (Leopardus wiedii), jaguar (Panthera onca), giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) and Amazonian manatee (Trichechus inunguis).
The objective is to preserve an Amazonian black water ecosystem for environmental education, interaction with local communities, sustainable tourism and research. The park is designed as a mega-reserve for present and future generations.
Anavilhanas National Park: protects the environment of the Anavilhanas river archipelago in the Rio Negro, one of the largest in the world, and its forest formations. The park is in the municipalities of Manaus and Novo Airão. It is about 80 mi (130 km) long and on average 12 mi (20 km) wide, with a total area of 866,000 acres (350,470 ha). The fluvial part of the park, 60% of the total, has more than 400 islands.
Protected species include margay cat (Leopardus wiedii), jaguar (Panthera onca), giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus), giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis), Amazonian manatee (Trichechus inunguis) and Amazon river dolphin (Inia geoffrensis).
The park supports scientific research and enhances conservation of the Amazon biome through environmental education and sustainable tourism. It is managed by the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation. The park is open year round.
Amanã Sustainable Development Reserve: covers 5,800,000 acres (2,350,000 ha) in the north-central part of the Brazilian state of Amazonas. Vegetation is mostly tall terra firma forest with areas of white water várzea and black water igapó flooded forest. The reserve is home to various rare or endangered species.
Mamirauá Sustainable Development Reserve: is a 4,300 sq mi (11,000 sq km) reserve in the Brazilian state of Amazonas. Mamirauá is recognized by the international Ramsar Convention, as a wetland of global importance. The reserve is in the Solimões-Japurá moist forests and Purus várzea ecorgions.
Located primarily at the confluence of the Negro and Solimões Rivers, the property contains the majority of the ecosystems recorded in the Amazon, including dryland forests and periodically flooded lowland forests (várzea and igapó, as well as black-water or white-water watercourses, waterfalls, swamps, lakes and beaches.
The Anavilhanas Archipelago, one of the largest river archipelagos in the world, is constantly evolving and is home to the largest array of electric fish on the planet.
The várzea and igapó flooded forests, lakes, rivers and islands of the site demonstrate ongoing ecological processes in the development of terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems. They include a constantly changing and evolving mosaic of river channels, lakes, and landforms. In constant movement, the floating mats of vegetation typical of the várzea watercourses include a significant number of endemic species.
The site protects a wide variety of flora and fauna, including rare and endangered species such as the giant Arapaima (the largest freshwater fish in South America), the giant otter, Amazonian manatee, the black caiman and two species of freshwater dolphins.
The property protects a large and representative sample of the flora and fauna of the forests of the Amazon Central Plain, with a significant number of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems associated with the forest which are periodically inundated by seasonal flooding, as well as swamps.
The Central Amazon Biosphere Reserve is located in a vast region of Brazil influenced by the Negro and Solimões rivers, tributaries of the Amazon River, and in the Amazon Plains-Guiana Shield transition area.
It is representative of the largest forest in the world and is made up of vast protected areas as well as smaller units that are important as ecological corridors for maintaining the genetic flow of species between these different units.
The Central Amazon Biosphere Reserve includes several regions with low population density where traditional forms of natural resource use are developed (mainly extraction and traditional agriculture).
Over 100,000 inhabitants (2001) live in the Biosphere Reserve, presenting a rich cultural diversity (small north-eastern farmers who are in the region for a long time indigenous people, and fishermen). The city of Manaus is the greatest industrial center of the Amazon region, and is becoming an important tourist region.
A sustainable use model for the region will be the intensification of agricultural production in areas already cleared of forest and in secondary forest areas, thus avoiding exploiting new forest areas.
The primary purpose of the Biosphere Reserve is the conservation of these strategic remains of forest areas and their immense biodiversity. Another goal is the study and recognition of the local population, traditional knowledge of biodiversity.