The Alto Mayo project is located in the Peruvian Andean Amazon, it conserves the ecological richness of Alto Mayo Protected Forest (AMPF), which has been designated an Alliance for Zero Extinction site due to its critical importance to the survival of Peru’s endemic fauna and flora. The area is home to around 4,000 families that directly depend on the forests for their livelihoods, as well as serving as a key source of freshwater for over 240,000 people living in the watershed.
As a vital part of the planet’s life-support system, tropical forests like the Alto Mayo act as the Earth’s lungs, absorbing big amounts of CO2 and releasing oxygen. Forests provide other critical ecosystem services such as filtering water, preventing soil erosion and regulating the climate.
The project conserves the 182,000 hectare AMPF by providing essential funding for forest management, and through a unique community based conservation model involving over 1,000 families. By effectively stemming some of the highest deforestation rates in Peru.
Although the Peruvian government established the AMPF in 1987, the park has faced intense deforestation pressure from illegal logging, the influx of migrants and unsustainable farming practices, clearing the forest primarily to grow coffee. Soil degradation and declining productivity, the result of poor agricultural practices, drove farmers to cut down more trees, driving a cycle of unsustainable activity that threatened to destroy the Alto Mayo. When the government did begin to establish a presence in the area, it attempted to address the threat by evicting farmers and their families, breeding conflict and mistrust.
“Under an innovative program established by the Peruvian Government, Conservation International (CI) began to participate in the co-management of the Alto Mayo. CI came with a new vision: Instead of treating the farmers and their families as a threat, why not see them as the solution? CI introduced the pioneering idea of developing voluntary conservation agreements with the family farmers in the Alto Mayo. The farmers pledged not to cut down the Alto Mayo’s trees in return for agricultural training, as well as for other benefits like educational materials and medical supplies. Environmental educational programmes in local schools help the area’s youth understand the importance of protecting the forest.
But first, the project had to overcome the deep mistrust that had developed among the people living within the Alto Mayo – after the attempted evictions, park rangers were not even allowed to enter the area. First the project engaged with a small number of brave community leaders, who saw that CI was serious about bringing real benefits to the community. Over time, success in the work convinced others in the community to participate. Today, 1,033 families have now signed conservation agreements, and the success of this model has convinced the Peruvian government to implement it in parks throughout the country.
This project delivers a number of other sustainable development benefits by supporting the Sustainable Development Goals.
Join us in making a difference, help protect and restore the Alto Mayo Protected Forest. Learn more about how you can collaborate. The time is now.