Peru’s Alto Mayo Forest features tremendous biodiversity and provides
vital freshwater resources for northeastern Peru. To protect these ecosystem
services, the Peruvian government designated it as a protected forest in 1987.
Despite this status, the Alto Mayo remains highly threatened by deforestation
as farmers seek to establish coffee plantations and grasslands for livestock
grazing. This destructive practice destroys the forest, reducing wildlife
habitat, increasing erosion and releasing large quantities of greenhouse gases
that contribute to climate change.
The Conservation Stewards Program (CSP), in collaboration with CI-Peru,
for Environmental Leadership in Business (CELB) and the Carbon
Fund, has supported the implementation of forest conservation actions in
the Alto Mayo Protected Forest through the use of conservation
agreements. In 2009, a conservation agreement was signed that bundled
ecosystem services such as water, carbon and biodiversity with a commitment to
ban deforestation, reforest degraded areas, carry out surveillance activities,
and restrict entry by illegal settlers.
With the support of Disney,
which donated $3.5 million in up-front funding as part of its overall commitment
to reduce its carbon emissions, CI launched the Alto Mayo Conservation
Initiative. This initiative, designed and validated using best-practice REDD+
standards (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation ‘plus’
conservation, the sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest
carbon stocks), will protect about 200,000 hectares of threatened forests in
northwestern Peru and avoid the release of millions of tons of CO2
over the lifetime of the project.
The initiative uses conservation agreements to involve farmers currently
living inside the Alto Mayo by providing incentives to keep the forest standing
in exchange for a package of benefits including assistance for the
transformation of traditional coffee plantations into shade-grown coffee
plantations. The sales of carbon credits from the REDD+ project contributes directly
to financial sustainability of these activities.
So far, 235 families have signed agreements to protect the forest, with
a target of 900 by 2014. CI is working with these families to improve their
agricultural practices to boost crop yields rather than expanding agricultural
land by cutting forests. CI is also providing efficient cook stoves and medical
supplies – resources these communities are using to improve their lives. As a
result, incomes go up, human well-being improves and the forest stays intact,
keeping greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere.
The Alto Mayo Conservation Initiative is CI’s first independently verified
REDD+ project and the world’s first REDD+ project in a protected area. Between 2009 and 2012, this program has reduced
carbon emissions by 2,500,000 metric tons – that’s like taking 500,000 cars off
the road for an entire year.
Click here to watch a video or read more about this life-changing work.