Building agroforestry systems around Cordillera Azul National Park
About the project:
The Cordillera Azul National Park is considered a jewel in the Amazon Basin thanks to its unique location at the intersection of the Andes mountain range and the Amazon Basin. The Cordillera Azul landscape is a rich biodiverse forest ecosystem that also stores a significant amount of carbon. A population of more than 250,000 people organized in 400 communities live in the buffer zone around the Park's boundaries. Most are subsistence farmers and over 40% live in poverty. The Cordillera Azul National Park is also under constant threat from illegal logging and the agricultural encroachment from small, poor farmers who have no alternative means of income generation.
Through an public-private partnership between the Peruvian government through the National Service of Protected Areas (SERNANP), the Centro de Investigación y Manejo de Áreas Naturales (CIMA Cordillera Azul), and the Althelia Climate Fund, the Cordillera Azul National Park REDD+ Project is preserving more than 1.3 million hectares of pristine montane rainforest and supporting sustainable land use in the 2.5 million hectares that surround the Park. Cordillera is among one of the largest protected areas in Peru, bigger than the US state of Connecticut and is home to around 6,000 plant species, more than 80 large and medium mammal species, around 180 species of fish, and over 600 species of birds.
The project will protect the area's unique biodiversity and restore degraded lands with cocoa and coffee agroforestry systems throughout the buffer zone around the Park. By working with small farmers and local communities, it will avoid more than 15 million tonnes of CO2 emissions over 6 years, mostly due to reduced deforestation.
This project protects critical ecosystem services for local communities which rely on healthy, functioning soil and water for their survival. The Park also protects cloud forests and the headwaters of the Huallaga and Ucayali rivers, providing clean water, halting soil erosion, maintaining fertile soils. Cordillera Azul National Park is also home to indigenous populations that have chosen to remain in voluntary isolation. The protection of these populations and their choices is central to the project.
Althelia's main partner for the Cordillera Azul REDD+ project is CIMA-Cordillera Azul, a Peruvian NGO and Initiative 20x20 technical partner, with over 12 years of on-the-ground experience managing protected areas. In 2008, the Peruvian government awarded CIMA a 20-year contract to manage the Park through a participatory process with different stakeholders, including international agencies, regional governments, local municipalities and farmer associations. CIMA is responsible for implementing conservation and protection activities inside the Park and its buffer zone, and ensuring the protected area's long-term financial sustainability.
With loan-based financing, Althelia Climate Fund has committed €8.55 million over 6 years to enable the protection of the Cordillera Azul landscape. CIMA will enhance surveillance, biological monitoring, research, and institutional strengthening and improve the governance of communities living in the buffer zone. CIMA will also contribute to the development of sustainable economic activities.
The project encourages local communities to restore degraded land by creating sustainable agroforestry systems that combine food crops with sustainable cash crops, like cocoa and coffee, to support poverty reduction, in partnership with local farmers' cooperatives. Althelia, CIMA, their partners and local communities will continue to protect this rich landscape for generations to come.