Río Abiseo National Park

Río Abiseo National Park

The park was created in 1983 to protect the fauna and flora of the rainforests that are characteristic of this region of the Andes. There is a high level of endemism among the fauna and flora found in the park. The yellow-tailed woolly monkey, previously thought extinct, is found only in this area. Research undertaken since 1985 has already uncovered 36 previously unknown archaeological sites at altitudes of between 2,500 and 4,000 m, which give a good picture of pre-Inca society.

Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Parc national Río Abiseo

Le parc a été créé en 1983 pour protéger la faune et la flore des forêts humides caractéristiques de cette partie des montagnes andines. Cette faune et cette flore comprennent un nombre élevé d'espèces endémiques. Le singe laineux à queue jaune, qu'on avait cru éteint, se trouve uniquement dans cette zone. Les recherches entreprises depuis 1985 ont déjà permis d'y découvrir 36 sites archéologiques jusqu'alors inconnus, s'étageant entre 2 500 et 4 000 m d'altitude, qui donnent une idée très complète de la société préinca.

Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

منتزه ريو أبيزيو الوطني

شُيّد هذا المنتزه في العام 1983 بهدف حماية الحيوانات والنباتات في الغابات الرطبة التي يتميّز بها هذا القسم من جبال الأنديز. وتتضمّن هاتَيْن الثروتَيْن عددًا مرتفعًا من الأجناس المستوطنة. القرد الأصوف ذو الذنب الأصفر الذي خلناه انقرض، يعيش في هذه المنطقة فحسب. وقد اتاحت الدراسات الجارية منذ العام 1985 اكتشاف 36 موقعًا أثريًا لا تزال مجهولةً حتى الآن. ويتراوح ارتفاعها بين 2500 و4000 متر تعطي لمحة شاملة عن صورة المجتمع ما قبل حقبة الإنكا.

source: UNESCO/CPE
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0



source: UNESCO/CPE
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Национальный парк Рио-Абисео

Парк Рио-Абисео был создан в 1983 г. с целью охраны флоры и фауны тропических лесов, покрывающих эту часть Перуанских Анд. Среди местных растений и животных выявлено множество эндемиков. Желтохвостая шерстистая обезьяна, считавшаяся ранее вымершей, обитает только на данной территории. Начиная с 1985 года, в ходе исследований здесь было обнаружено 36 ранее неизвестных объектов, расположенных на высотах 2500 - 4000 м и представляющих большую археологическую ценность. Эти находки – яркие свидетельства доинковской индейской цивилизации.

source: UNESCO/CPE
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Parque Nacional del Río Abiseo

Este parque se creó en 1983 para proteger la fauna y la flora altamente endémicas de los bosques lluviosos característicos de esta región de los Andes. El mono lanudo de cola amarilla, que se creía extinto, se encuentra únicamente en esta zona. Los trabajos de investigación llevados a cabo desde 1985 han permitido descubrir hasta ahora 36 sitios arqueológicos, situados entre 2.500 y 4.000 metros de altitud, que proporcionan una idea bastante completa de lo que fue la sociedad preincaica.

source: UNESCO/CPE
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0


source: NFUAJ

Nationaal park Río Abiseo

Het nationaal park Río Abiseo werd in 1983 opgericht om de flora en fauna te beschermen van de regenwouden die kenmerkend zijn voor deze regio van de Andes. Er zijn vele inheemse soorten flora en fauna in het park te vinden. De geelstaart wolaap – waarvan men eerder dacht dat de soort was uitgestorven – is alleen in dit gebied te vinden. Dankzij onderzoek uitgevoerd sinds 1985, zijn er al 36 voorheen onbekende archeologische gebieden gevonden op hoogtes tussen de 2.500 en 4.000 meter. De ontdekte plekken geven een goed beeld van de pre-Incasamenleving.

Source: unesco.nl

Outstanding Universal Value

Brief Synthesis

Rio Abiseo National Park is situated on the Eastern slope of the tropical Andes in North-Central Peru as one of the few World Heritage properties inscribed for both cultural and natural values. Across its 274,520 hectares the property not only harbors several forest types and high Andean grasslands know as Paramo but also extraordinary archaeological values spanning at least eight millennia of human history. Scientists consider the forest part of Pleistocene refuge, meaning that flora and fauna are believed to have survived and evolved here during periods of past glaciation. This is a plausible explanation for the astonishing diversity of flora and fauna and the high degree of endemism found in the forests and grasslands. The numerous archaeological sites blend in harmoniously with the forests, canyons, and highlands – against the stunning backdrop of an unspoiled and remote part of the Andes

The number and variety of archaeological sites found indicate a significant level of human occupation, which dates back to the pre-ceramic era around 6,000 years B.C. and continued steadily until before European colonization. The known ruins and other archaeological remains extend over more than 150,000 hectares in and around the property. Since 1985, 36 archaeological sites have been recorded, 29 in the high elevation grasslands and seven within the continuous montane forests inside the park. Types of features include rock shelters, roads, domestic and ceremonial structures, storage buildings, fences, platforms, agricultural terraces and burial sites. Trade relationships existed with places as far away as the Pacific Coast and what are today the Ecuadorian Andes. Among these archaeological sites, La Playa, Las Papayas, Los Pinchudos, Gran Pajatén, Cerro Central and Manachaqui Cave are worth highlighting.

The property protects the headwaters of three major rivers of the Huallaga Rive system, a major Peruvian tributary to the Amazon. Both the Andean grasslands and the lowland, montane and cloud forests harbour impressive numbers of rare species, many of which are restricted to the property in their range. Among the particularly noteworthy species is the critically endangered Yellow-tailed Woolly Monkey, one of the largest monkey species in South America, which was long believed to be extinct before its scientific rediscovery in what is today the property. In terms of research, the property´s pollen records deserve to be mentioned which contain valuable information on climate dynamics of this part of the Amazon Basin. There is little doubt that future research will reveal new discoveries, both in terms of natural and cultural heritage in an area that benefit from its formal protection status and the natural protection through the remoteness and the rugged terrain.

Criterion (iii): The Pre-Hispanic monuments in the valley of Monte Cristo inside the Abiseo River National Park are outstanding examples of prehispanic adaptation, evolution and human settlement in the high altitude cloud forests of the Peruvian Andes Amazon basin, as early as 6,000 BC, evidenced by the Manachaqui cave, until mid-sixteenth century. The extensive and remarkably complete remains are of great importance for the understanding early human occupation in the Andean region. 

Criterion (vii): Situated in a remote part of the tropical Andes, Río Abiseo National Park harbors entire unspoiled river basin covered by dense and lush forests. Towards the higher elevations, the terrain becomes increasingly rugged and deeply dissected. Eventually cloud forests give room to Andean Paramo grasslands. The dramatic scenic beauty of the varied mountain landscape is complemented by numerous small mountain lakes, pools, rivers, creeks and precipitous canyons. Embedded into the landscape are numerous remarkable archaeological sites, serving as a reminder of the still poorly-understood life of bygone societies in a stunning natural environment.

Criterion (ix): The entire tropical Andes, extending across several countries, are known for their global conservation importance, tragically coinciding with increasingly strong human pressure. Within the region, Rio Abiseo National Park stands out as a mostly intact protected area benefitting from a high degree of isolation and natural protection by the harsh terrain. Along the huge altitudinal gradient from around 350 to 4,349 m.a.s.l. and influenced by highly variable soils, expositions, rainfall patterns and microclimates the property is home to extremely varied ecosystems and habitats. Broadly speaking, dry forests can be distinguished from four types of moist forests and the high altitude grasslands. Rio Abiseo´s pristine clouds forests reaching up to 3,600 m.a.s.l. stand out as a rare intact example of a particularly valuable forest type. The property is believed to belong to the Huallaga Pleistocene refugium according to the Pleistocene refuge hypothesis, a prevailing explanation for biodiversity patterns and endemism. Isolated refuges, such as the area today constituting the property, are thought to have enabled not only the survival but also the birth of new species during glacial periods. Still very incomplete records show impressive endemism in plants, invertebrates, amphibians, evidence for ongoing speciation processes. Beyond the scientifically fascinating degree of endemism, Rio Abiseo National Park is also an important reference for the study of pollen and climate change in the Amazon Basin.

Criterion (x): The numerous intact ecosystems and habitats harbour an impressive species diversity of global significance for conservation and science. Even though only limited research has been conducted in these forests and grasslands, more than 5,000 plant species have been recorded, almost 1,000 in the grasslands alone. The inventory of the fauna is likewise incomplete, taxonomic studies routinely yield species previously unknown to science, including vertebrates, such as reptiles, amphibians and even small mammals. The more conspicuous mammal fauna includes Spectacled Bear, Giant Armadillo, North Andean Deer, Jaguar and several other cat species. Out of the at least five primate species, the critically endangered Yellow-tailed Woolly Monkey stands out, as its future seems intricately linked to the future of Rio Abiseo National Park. Hundreds of bird species and countless arthropods are distributed across the many habitats and ecological niches. Endemism is high across many taxonomic groups and many species of flora and fauna are rare, some threatened or even in danger of extinction.


Much of Rio Abiseo National Park cannot easily be accessed; most was practically inaccessible after the original inhabitants abandoned it and until the first modern dirt roads reached the area starting in the 1960s. To this day, very few people entre the more rugged parts of the protected area. The boundaries of Rio Abiseo National Park are plausible, as they include a wealth of natural and cultural features of major conservation and research importance. By covering the entire Abiseo River basin, a natural ecological unit enjoys full formal protection; an ideal set-up provided the ambitious laws can be fully enforced. From a natural heritage perspective it is also notable that the full altitudinal gradient from the lowlands to the high Andean grasslands enjoys full protection. While the national park is surrounded by a large buffer zone, none has been formally recognized for the World Heritage property. Given the limited scientific information available about the exact distribution of biodiversity, endemism and archaeological sites, there may be opportunities to further refine the boundaries on the future, as new information about the distribution of diversity, endemism and archaeological sites becomes available. In addition, archaeological research undertaken to date suggests that the ancient settlement area extends beyond the boundaries of the National Park, into the upper valleys of the Las Palmas and Pajatén rivers. Any eventual application to extend the boundaries of the cultural site to these areas will require careful evaluation, to ensure that adequate protection and management measures are in force.

The property contains all the physical cultural features as well, from rock shelters to housing, ceremonial, production (platforms and warehouses) structure, cemeteries and roads that remain intact despite non-substantial changes primarily due to natural causes, which have caused the erosion of its material integrity. Careful attention must be paid by the responsible authorities to the conservation of excavated sites to address decay factors owing to the climatic and environmental conditions, including the risk of seismic disturbance, as well as those derived from human actions.


The authenticity of the archaeological remains at the Rio Abiseo National Park remains unquestionable. No significant human interventions have occurred since its abandonment in the 16th century until its rediscovery in the 19th century. The geographical configuration, isolation and the inaccessibility of the area have contributed to keeping intact the authenticity of the pre-Columbian sites. These conditions show that the diversity of archaeological sites within the various altitudes and areas of the Rio Abiseo National Park still bear witness to the process and the historical continuity of adaptation, evolution and human development in the cloud forest and the paramo of the high Andes territory, occupied extensive and rationally during a millenary historical period that extends from the pre-ceramic earlier ages until the formation of complex societies in the 15th century.

Protection and Management requirements

The lack of infrastructure and the difficult access to most of the property in this remote part of the Andes have been ensuring a substantial degree of protection from disturbance and illegal activities, since the historic settlements were abandoned in the late 16th century. In 1983, twenty years after its scientific discovery, the Citadel of Gran Pajatén archaeological site was gazetted as National Cultural Heritage. The same year, Rio Abiseo National Park was established with the primary objectives to protect the exceptional cloud forest, the Abiseo watershed and explicitly the area’s cultural values. From the very beginning the Ministry of Agriculture (and subsequently the Ministry of the Environment), and the National Institute of Culture, now the Ministry of Culture, have been sharing the formal management responsibility for the property in an effort to embark on an integrated management approach. While appropriate for the conservation of the extraordinary natural and cultural values of the area, this implies a need for comprehensive coordination, which can sometimes be challenging across different institutions and fields of expertise. Since, and even before, the establishment of the national park management planning documents have been elaborated, at times specified in operational plans. Management planning requires consolidation building upon this experience. Since its creation, Rio Abiseo National Park has received scientific, technical and financial support from national and international research and conservation institutions. This diversified support structure likewise deserves consolidation and, if possible, expansion in the face of funding shortages.

Despite the evident tourism potential of the landscape and the fascinating archaeological sites, public visits are highly restricted and controlled due to the property’s fragility. These are some pressures from adjacent settlements, particularly on the western side of the property, mainly agricultural encroachment, firewood extraction, poaching, grazing and associated burning, of grasslands. As settlements and roads are moving closer to the property, the need to actively respond to these pressures on natural resources is likely to intensify. The same holds true for the cultural sites, as the risk of looting augments. Pressures from illegal coca cultivation were noted at the time of inscription and require continued attention. While the national park enjoys a good overall state of conservation, its aquatic systems are telling example of the damaging effects of alien invasive species, even in seemingly intact ecosystems. Introduces only in the 1970s, Rainbow Trout, is now established as the aquatic top predator, altering the diversity and trophic structure of most rivers and creeks, quite possibly an irreversible loss of conservation values.