The creation of the national park and community reserves demonstrates the Peruvian government's dedication to expanding its network of protected areas, as well as the indigenous communities' commitment to managing their own land.
CI and its Peruvian and international partners worked extensively with the indigenous communities to determine their concerns and settle property rights to their ancestral lands before designing park plans. The largest of several local indigenous groups, the Machiguenga have inhabited the area for more than 5,000 years.
Now that the protected areas are established, CI is helping officials and community members with the next steps. The reserves will be zoned, with a wilderness core and a buffer area in which community members will continue to hunt, fish, gather plants and raise crops on their own lands.
The protected areas are designed to be mutually beneficial. Otishi National Park protects the watershed that sustains local rivers, and the traditional way of life depends on a healthy forest. The presence of indigenous communities near the park can help protect it, while park officials can guard against invaders of the reserves.
The three areas anchor the westernmost point of the Vilcabamba-Amboró conservation corridor -- a 75-million-acre (30-million-hectare) tract stretching from Peru's Vilcabamba Mountains to Bolivia's Amboró National Park.
"The Vilcabamba-Amboró conservation corridor is likely the least fragmented part of the Tropical Andes hotspot-and also has the highest biodiversity," says Antonio Telesca, CI-Peru executive director. "Keeping it intact is a priority for CI."
The corridor includes more than 16 natural protected areas and their buffer zones, and approximately 40 ethnic groups live in this region. CI and its partners are committed to helping local people in the corridor build a variety of livelihoods that help them advance economically while keeping intact the natural resources and systems on which all prosperity depends. Options being explored include ecotourism and harvesting Brazil nuts and other nontimber products from the forest.
Even in the seemingly remote region around Otishi, the threats to biodiversity and sustainable development are real. Chief among these are the logging and petroleum industries -- and the settlers that their roads can bring. Of particular concern is the pipeline for the Camisea natural gas project. The Camisea natural gas fields contain by far the largest hydrocarbon reserves in Peru, more than enough to meet Peru's demands for 25 years. The pipeline, leading to other parts of the country and beyond, is slated to pass through the southeast part of the Machiguenga Community Reserve.
CI's Center for Environmental Leadership in Business is working with stakeholders to avoid or mitigate the impacts of pipeline construction. Without careful planning, new access routes along the pipeline could encourage a wave of migration, causing environmental destruction and disruption of indigenous communities in this previously intact area.
The Tropical Andes hotspot harbors more species -- and more endemic species -- than anywhere else on Earth. It is home to a staggering 45,000 recorded plant species, 20,000 of which live here alone. Of 1,666 bird species, 677 are endemic, more than in any other region. A remarkable 604 of 830 amphibians live only in the Andes as well, along with such mammals as the spectacled bear, the yellow-tailed woolly monkey and the Andean tapir.
Otishi National Park, Ashaninka Community Reserve and Machiguenga Community Reserve
Collectively, 1.76 million acres (709,346 hectares)
High-biodiversity wilderness area:
The World Bank, Global Environment Facility, the Mulago Foundation, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
Other major partners:
Centre for Indigenous Amazonian Development; municipalities of Satipo, Rio Tambo, Echarate and Sepahua; Community Center of Native Machiguengas; Federation of Native Yine-Yami Communities; Association for the Conservation of the Cutivereni Patrimony; the Smithsonian Institution; Peruvian Society for Environmental Development; Peruvian National Institute of Natural Resources (INRENA)