Located in the Peruvian Andean Amazon, the Alto Mayo REDD+ project conserves the ecologically rich 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. 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. 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, the project is projected to generate 10.3M tonnes of Verified Emissions Reductions (VERs) over 20 years.
7,200,000+ tons of CO2 emissions avoided to date
700,000 tons of CO2 avoided per year
- Location: Peru
- Developer: Conservation International
- Standards: VCS, CCB
Despite its protected status, the Alto Mayo has faced some of Peru’s highest deforestation rates. Though a protected area management plan was established as early as 1987, there was no enforcement presence until the 2000s. By that time, a national highway had been built through the forest and thousands of people had settled in the area, 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.
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.
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. Through sustained training and technical assistance, farmers have been able to improve the productivity and quality of their coffee, and have achieved organic and Fair Trade certification. With the support of the project, the farmers of the Alto Mayo also formed a cooperative, enabling them to achieve premium pricing for their coffee.
The project has been able to reduce deforestation by 75% from its previous levels, reducing enough emissions to take the equivalent of 150,000 cars off the road each year. The project has demonstrated that creative, collaborative, community-based, market-oriented approaches to conservation can produce durable results for people, forests, wildlife, and the climate. The innovative partnerships the project has created between the Peruvian government, the families of the Alto Mayo, and international organizations such as CI and its partners, are a lasting legacy that has spread beyond the boundaries of the Alto Mayo.