Nicaraguan Mosquitia, Nicaragua: The remote Nicaraguan Mosquitia is a vast area which contains intact Caribbean lowland forest and is also home to Miskito, Rama, Sumo indigenous groups and some Garífuna communities. The Nature Conservancy, together with its Nicaraguan partners, is working to protect the area's rich cultural and biological diversity. More than 215 bird species are found in Bosawas, including more than 100 species of North American migrants such as the wood thrush, cerulean warbler, and Canada warbler. A total of 270 species of trees and bushes have been identified including mahogany and Spanish cedar.
Rock Islands, Palau: The Republic of Palau consists of 340 islands in the Micronesian region of the Pacific Ocean, 600 miles east of the Philippines. Three ocean currents converge on this tightly bunched archipelago, bringing with them an unrivalled diversity of marine life. Named one of the "Seven Underwater Wonders of the World" by marine scientists and dive journalists, Palau supports some 350 coral species and 1,400 species of reef fish. Its waters are home to endangered and vulnerable species such as dugong (a relative of the manatee), saltwater crocodiles, and hawksbill and green sea turtles. Tropical forests blanket much of the islands, stabilizing soils and providing habitat to dozens of species of birds and other animals.
Palmyra Atoll, The northernmost atoll of the Line Islands chain in the Pacific Ocean: Palmyra is an equatorial atoll, a circular string of 54 small, heavily vegetated islets formed by the growth of coral on the rim of an ancient submerged volcano. The Palmyra Atoll is a thousand miles south of Hawaii, an untold distance from civilization. Uninhabited by humans and wild to the core, it is the last intact marine wilderness in the U.S. tropics. Its pristine waters harbor five times as many coral species as the Florida Keys, and its shores offer one of the few nesting areas for seabirds within 450,000 square miles. Palmyra's islets offer an untouched sanctuary to many rare and endangered species.
East End Marine Park, St. Croix: East End Marine Park, the first territorial park in the U.S. Virgin Islands, will protect the largest island barrier reef system in the Caribbean. Legislative approval recently made the area an official park. Extending from the high-water mark out three miles, it encompasses 60 square miles of offshore coral reef and other marine habitat. The park includes about five square miles of "no-take areas," which are off limits to any fishing and harvesting. A turtle refuge will extend about a mile (1.6 kilometers) into the Caribbean Ocean from the shoreline of the island's primary hawksbill and green turtle nesting beaches on Jack Bay, Isaac Bay and East End Bay
Amboró-Carrasco, Brasil: These two national parks, Amboró and Carrasco, are mountainous with steep slopes in the north and low hills to the south. They feature ancient volcanoes and prominent sandstone formations that have eroded to form deep canyons. Dominant features of the continent converging here include: the Andes to the south and west; the Amazon to the north; the Chaco flatlands to the east; and the Brazilian Shield/Chiquitania to the northeast. Precipitation during Bolivia's summer rainy season (November through March) is monumental. Annual moisture measurements can be up to 13 feet (4 meters) in Amboró and up to 16 feet (4.8 meters) in Carrasco.
Valdivian Coastal Range, Chile: During the last Ice Age, these coastal forests served as a refuge, a haven free from the freeze. As a result, the Valdivian Coastal Range still harbors Chile's highest concentrations of species found nowhere else on Earth. About 275,000 acres (111,293 hectares) of the 1 million-acre (404,700 million-hectare) Valdivian Coastal Range are now protected, in several sites. The Valdivian Coastal Range, near the city of Valdivia, is in the upper part of southern Chile along the Pacific coastline.
Podocarpus, Colombia: Podocarpus National Park spans more than 360,000 acres (145,692 hectares) across the Andes Mountains. It is the only protected area in southern Ecuador. The park was established in 1982 with the goal of protecting the largest remaining forest of native Andean conifers, of the genus Podocarpus. The park includes a portion of the Cordillera Real, a series of small Andean lakes, lowland Amazon forest and cloud forests dominated by three species of Podocarpus. Podocarpus National Park extends from high in the Andes to the Amazon Basin.
Pacaya-Samiria, Peru: No other protected area in Peru is as directly linked to the economic well-being of such a large human population. At least 100,000 ribereños, or river people, living in and around this part of the Amazonian rain forest rely on its aquatic and terrestrial resources for food and income. Another 600,000 Peruvians live nearby. Pacaya-Samiria is named for the two rivers that wind their way through this flooded forest. The wide waterways converge into the larger Marañón and Ucayali rivers, whose confluence at the northeast tip of the reserve marks the headwaters of the mighty Amazon.
Canaima, Venezuela: Canaima National Park is a collection of sprawling rivers, jungles and Guianan savannas. Established in 1962, the park originally encompassed 2.5 million acres (1 million hectares) and was later extended to 7.4 million acres. The parks centerpiece is Angel Falls. The highest waterfall in the world, it is more than 18 times higher than the famed Niagara Falls. In the dry season, water spilling from Angel Falls often evaporates before completing its 14-second, 3,250-foot (986-meter) drop.