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Napo moist forests

The Napo moist forests ecoregion is centred around the Napo river watershed in westernmost Amazonia, covering parts of Ecuador, Peru and Colombia. The region is bounded on the west by the Andes Mountains, and extends east near the confluence of the Napo and Amazon rivers. It has been a place of natural colonization and counter-colonization of species coinciding with dramatic changes in temperature and humidity. These historic climatic fluctuations resulted in high rates of evolution and speciation, thereby rendering this area extremely diverse. Three main types of vegetation occur: terra firme forest, várzea forest, and igapó swamp forest. The upland terra firme forests are more diverse and taller with canopies reaching up to 50 m in height. The two other forest types are water-saturated and support a diverse flora that is adapted to the watery conditions.


These forests are among the richest in species biodiversity in the entire Amazon Basin, and rank among the most diverse in the world. Some 219 species of mammals and 649 species of birds are reported in the ecoregion, and it possesses the richest herpetofauna in the world. The Upper Amazon-Napo lowlands is an Endemic Bird Area. Several large protected areas are situated within the ecoregion. However, for the most part their administration suffers from insufficient funding, hunting, and deforestation resulting from expansion of settlement, colonization of the interior by peasant farmers, forest conversion into cattle pasture and plantations, petroleum operations, and construction of roads by oil companies. The whole Ecuadorian Amazon has been subject to oil and gas exploration and virtually all of the Napo riverine area in Ecuador is open for oil leasing. This excessive oil and gas exploration in the Ecuadorian Amazon has additionally resulted in the displacement of the indigenous peoples.


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