Around the world, indigenous communities are often neglected or even threatened by national governments. But those in the Amarakaeri reserve in southern Peru are working with officials to secure their future. Their survival creates protection for the rainforests they call home.
The partnership helps local people earn a sustainable living and also gives them tools to monitor and report illegal logging and mining. People have seen their incomes grow by up to 60%, while the scheme has been certified as meeting the world’s highest conservation standards.
Through the promotion of sustainable economic activities, incomes have increased under a model of territorial governance, which has been certified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) for meeting the highest conservation standards in the world.
In 2006, ten indigenous communities in the Amarakaeri, seeking to protect their ancestral rainforest, came together with government authorities to form El Ejecutor del Contrato de Administración de la Reserva Comunal Amarakaeri (ECA-Amarakaeri).
The group has worked hand-in-hand with Peru’s National Service of Protected Areas to mitigate climate change through the sustainable management of the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve – a primary forest covering 402,335 hectares, threatened by gold mining and logging.
The main economic activity supported by the project is sustainable Brazil nut production, but it also promotes cacao production, sustainable tourism, fish farming and poultry breeding.
There are over 100 people from four native communities in Amarakaeri cultivating the Brazil nut. From 2016 to 2022, these four communities sold over 3,000 barrels of the nut.
The project gives communities the skills to carry out Brazil nut production and ensures women and young people take part in the harvesting and marketing processes. Women occupy key leadership positions in the project.
A model shaped by indigenous voices
ECA-Amarakaeri also works with over 1,500 direct participants from the ten communities to monitor and patrol the reserve and gather evidence of any illegal activities or impacts within it, using a digital platform. Young people make up 60% of the reserve surveillance team.
Since 2018 the Amarakaeri reserve has held a place on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Green List, which certifies the highest conservation standards worldwide.
The running of the project is guided by life plans prepared and signed by each community. The model is now being replicated in nine other Peruvian territories and countries including Brazil, Bolivia and Colombia.
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