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The Farmer Field Schools: a space to understand the conflict with wildlife

  • The Farmer Field Schools are training spaces for farmers developed through 7 learning modules on their own farms.
  • From May 19 to June 5, the learning module of coexistence with wildlife was implemented in the ECAS in Madre de Dios. During this space, the attendees shared their experiences concerning conflicts with species such as the jaguar and received information about the importance of the conservation of forests and the ecosystem services they provide us. 
In Peru, about 45% of greenhouse gas emissions come from land - use change and forestry. In the case of Madre de Dios, a region called "Capital of Biodiversity", due to its enormous diversity of species of fauna and flora. With great potential for carbon fixation, cattle ranching has been positioning itself as a very important economic activity. 

According to GOREMAD, currently, more than 50,000 hectares are used for extensive cattle ranching in this region. To address this problem, the "Alliance for Regenerative Cattle Ranching in the Peruvian Amazon"(AGRAP) was created, an initiative that seeks to recover and regenerate our Amazon forests. Especially, through sustainable practices in agriculture and cattle raising activity in Madre de Dios.

The Alliance is financed by the UK PACT program, and is being implemented by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), The Climate Group and the Tropical Forest Alliance. Within the framework of this alliance, the Farmers Field Schools (ECAS) have been created, considered spaces to strengthen the capacities of agricultural producers under gender equity, youth and social. It should be noted that the ECAS methodology seeked to be close to farmers, so the workshops were held on their own farms and facilities were provided with schedules to ensure their attendance.

The ECAS were developed through 7 learning modules that include topics such as animal management, environment, herd diversification, production systems, business administration, business approach, as well as social approach and coexistence with wildlife. This last module was developed by specialists in Amazonian wildlife issues from WWF-Peru.

What does a wildlife conflict scenario entail?

According to science, the conflict between wildlife and people can be defined as "any interaction between both elements, which entails some negative impact on social, economic, cultural systems, the conservation of wild species or the environment. ”[1]. Although this problem is not new, it has increased due to the pressure on the landscapes where people and fauna cohabit.

"There are growing demands for housing, human beings have begun to colonize landscapes where many wild species are distributed," says Juriko Rupay, Wildlife Program Specialist at WWF-Peru. Because of the decrease in the boundary between wild areas and areas used by humans, there are more interactions with wildlife. This situation can cause a negative attitude in people. And many of them persecute wildlife.

It is also important to mention that the costs associated with conflict are not always distributed equitably. In many cases, communities that economically depend on activities such as agriculture and farming, see that their means of subsistence and therefore their quality of life is undermined because of the conflict.

Given this complex situation, it is essential to bet on an adequate strategy that addresses the human-wildlife conflict, as has already happened successfully in other parts of Latin America and the world.

Participatory workshops to address the conflict in the ECAS

For this reason, from May 19 to June 5 of this year, the learning module on coexistence with wildlife was implemented in the ECAS of Madre de Dios. 9 workshops were held with the participation of 154 attendees, including farmers and students from more than 20 locations in the Provinces of Tambopata and Tahuamanu.

During the workshop, it was possible to know different points of view, perceptions, attitudes, needs, experiences and concerns of the attendees regarding the conflict with the jaguar. In fact, most of the attendees stated that they had been affected by jaguar predation on their farming or domestic animals, at least once in their lives, although they also mentioned other wild species. In addition, the team showed them the importance of jaguar conservation to maintain a healthy forest and the benefits derived from it.

“It is crucial to adopt approaches that identify and address the underlying causes of the conflict. Our goal is to contribute to ensuring more spaces for harmonious coexistence with wildlife, particularly human-jaguar interactions, contributing to the reduction of the frequency and severity of conflicts. For this reason, it is essential that systemic solutions be developed hand in hand with the affected communities,” said Fabiola La Rosa, Specialist of the WWF-Peru Wildlife Program. Thus, a next step in this intervention will be to co-design with agricultural producers a plan to reduce and prevent the jaguar-human conflict, as well as other prioritized wild species.

Although it is not possible to completely eradicate human-wildlife conflict, it is necessary to aim for effective management to reduce and minimize conflict in the long term. “Achieving this risk and exposure reduction can create opportunities and bring benefits, not only for biodiversity and affected communities, but for society, sustainable development, production and the economy in general. At WWF we are committed to achieving these objectives through comprehensive solutions and management that involves the participation of all the actors included”, concluded Fabiola.

[1] Bonacic C., N. Gálvez, J. Ibarra, et al. 2007. Assessment of conflict between wild carnivores and livestock. (Technical report). Fauna Australis Wildlife Laboratory. Pontifical Catholic University of Chile (PUC). Santiago, Chile.


 © Juriko Rupay/ WWF - Perú

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