Since 2015, Andes Amazon Fund (AAF) has been supporting the creation of protected areas and indigenous territories in some of the most biodiverse places on our planet. This past year marked a significant milestone for our organization that reflects our commitment to investing in the future of the Andean Amazon. In only five years, we have contributed to the formal conservation of more than 20 million acres (8 million ha) of wilderness across Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, and Ecuador. In doing so, we have more than doubled our initial goal of safeguarding 5 to 10 million acres of land by 2021. This would not have been possible without the work of our 24 grantee organizations in collaboration with local partners and governments, and the support of our generous donors including the Wyss Foundation, blue moon fund, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Bobolink Foundation, and others.
In 2019 alone, 11 of the conservation areas that we had been supporting were successfully declared, including:
1. Bajo Madidi Municipal Conservation Area in Bolivia:
Triple the size of Grand Canyon National Park, the Municipal Conservation Area of Bajo Madidi provides protection to 3,794,291 acres (1,535,495 ha) of pristine savannas, wetlands, and rainforest in northwestern Bolivia. The area, created in May 2019, will also protect the six rivers that flow through its borders, which are important for the migration of fish, birds, and other animals. Bajo Madidi contributes to a bi-national protected area network spanning 7.14 million acres (2.89 million ha) that includes Madidi National Park in Bolivia and Tambopata National Reserve in Peru. As the largest municipal conservation area in the country and perhaps even the world, the declaration of Bajo Madidi is a conservation milestone for the country. AAF Grantees: Conservation International- Bolivia and ACEAA.
2. Irenda Municipal Conservation Area in Bolivia:
Established in December 2019, Irenda Municipal Conservation Area conserves 353,292 acres (142,972 ha) of cloud forest within the Aguaragüe mountain range in southern Bolivia. These mountains provide crucial refuge for emblematic species, such as the Andean bear, and ensure water security for local communities. People living in the municipal capital of Charagua and as far as the Gran Chaco plains to the east depend on the water that the Charagua mountain range and the Aguaragüe forest generate. It is one of the first municipal conservation areas that will be managed by a municipality governed by an indigenous group, the Guaraní, and is the result of their strong commitment to forest protection. AAF Grantee: Natura Bolivia.
3. Ausangate Regional Conservation Area in Peru:
Also established in December, the new Regional Conservation Area of Ausangate will protect 164,360 acres (66,514 ha) of Andean ecosystems in Cusco, including Quelccaya— the world’s largest tropical glacier. This same glacier provides a number of invaluable ecosystem services for the entire region. The ice melt from Quelccaya feeds into the basins of three rivers— the Vilcanota, Mapacho, and Araza— as well as Lake Sibinacocha. By protecting Quelccaya as a part of the new Regional Conservation Area, Cusco has helped ensure water security for its population. The creation of Ausangate will also support the regional economy by expanding nature-based tourism and protecting species, such as the vicuna, that provide a sustainable source of income for local people. AAF Grantees: ACCA ACA and SPDA.
Additional areas legally protected with our financial support in 2019:
- Serranía de Santa Rosa Municipal Conservation Area in Bolivia 115,327 acres (46,671 ha). AAF Grantee: Natura Bolivia
- Yuruá Conservation Concession in Peru: 112,850 acres (45,669 ha). AAF Grantees: UAC / ProPúrus
- Huamboya Municipal Conservation Area in Ecuador: 103,082 acres (41,716 ha). AAF Grantee: NCI
- Chaupe Regional Conservation Area in Peru: 54,039 acres (21,869 ha). AAF Grantees NCI and SPDA
- Pumasapa Conservation Concession in Peru: 4,171 acres (1,688 ha). AAF Grantee: AMPA
- Nuevo San Pedro Indigenous Community in Peru: 4,169 acres (1,687 ha). AAF Grantee: NCI
- Tibi Playa Private Conservation Area in Peru: 2,774 acres (1,122 ha). AAF Grantee: AMPA
- Arroyo Negro Private Conservation Area in Peru: 385 acres (156 ha). AAF Grantee: ECOAN
“Protected areas are the cornerstone for conservation in the Amazon, the world’s cradle of biodiversity. These Andean-Amazonian forests are also critical for maintaining the climate that enables livelihoods for local peoples and indigenous communities. The role of these forests is now more important than ever in the face of climate change. Thanks to the work of governments and partners, and the support and commitment of local peoples, AAF is proud of contributing to a better world. Twenty 20 million acres protected in our first 5 years is a good reason for optimism,” said AAF Senior Program Director, Enrique Ortiz.
Last year, AAF also celebrated the launch of the Patrimonio Natural del Perú (PdP) initiative in alliance with the Peruvian Ministry of Environment, the National Protected Area Service (SERNANP), and a consortium of organizations, including The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. By providing $70 million USD in funding for Peru’s protected area system, to be matched by $70 million from the government of Peru, this initiative will support the creation of new areas and the management of existing ones in the Amazon basin. It will also ensure the long-term sustainability of the country’s renowned protected area network by creating the enabling conditions for new fundraising opportunities. In partnership with the Wyss Campaign for Nature and Bobolink Foundation, AAF pledged $3 million to support these efforts.
“AAF’s results to date show that there is still so much that can be done to conserve the most important areas for biodiversity on our planet. Given how reducing deforestation is critical to combatting climate change, working with local people to protect and sustain their forests is even more important in 2020 and beyond,” said AAF Executive Director, Megan MacDowell.