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WWF-Peru celebrates the Madre de Dios anniversary as the capital of biodiversity, showing its contributions to the conservation and sustainable use of its forests

The Madre de Dios region has the largest number of hectares of forest under FSC-certified logging, more than 600,000 hectares.

WWF Peru began 2002 conservation work in the southern Peruvian Amazon. The objective was to strengthen the capacities of native communities in the region to achieve sustainable management of their forests. At the same time, the country approved Forestry and Wildlife Law No. 27308, which established modifications in the country's timber and non-timber concessions. It meant new challenges for the state and private organizations of the time.

In the beginning, WWF Peru in Madre de Dios worked with indigenous communities such as Amahuaca, Harakbut, Yine, Ese Eja, and Shipibo, looking to strengthen the management of their forests. By 2004 it achieved the first forest management certification from the Forest Stewardship Council ( FSC) for Peruvian indigenous territories in the Native Community of Belgium, located in the province of Tahuamanu.

Although there is sustainable forest use, illegal logging also exists. It reduces forests and threatens the lives of indigenous peoples who inhabit the Amazon. For this reason, in the same year of the official designation of the Alto Purús National Park and the Purús Communal Reserve (located in  Ucayali and Madre de Dios regions), a refuge for indigenous peoples in isolation and initial contact was promoted.

FSC certification was then promoted in other timber forest concessions to improve their competitiveness and achieve high sustainability standards. As a result, Madre de Dios has become the region with the largest number of hectares of forest under FSC-certified exploitation (more than 600,000 hectares). It demonstrates that the efforts of the private sector, civil society, and the authorities ensure biological diversity and improve the quality of life of local communities.

Another impact in the Madre de Dios region is the work to reduce emissions and stop deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) in 2012. The project respected the initiative of indigenous people “Redd Indígena Amazónico”. For this, the department was recognized for its technical advances and studies and analysis of deforestation. Madre de Dios, by implementing projects with a climate change component, strengthens governance and stakeholder participation. The results of this work provided valuable information to build the National Forest and Climate Change Strategy.

On the other hand, in 2015, WWF Peru collaborated with the protection strategy of the Madre de Dios Territorial Reserve, where other indigenous people live in isolation and initial contact. Today, the Alto Purús National Park, the Purús Communal Reserve, the Manu National Park, the Bahuaja Sonene National Park, the FSC-certified forest concessions, and the indigenous reserves comprise the largest biological conservation corridor in the Peruvian Amazon.

In addition to illegal logging, mining is a big problem that never stops, for this reason, in 2015 WWF-Peru together with Wake Forest University (WFU), the Center for Scientific Innovation of the Amazon (CINCIA), and USAID conducted scientific research to restore tracts of land that were once forests. That made it possible to recover more than 250 hectares with 250,000 native trees that help regenerate the soil and attract endemic fauna. It also made it possible to collect geospatial information to determine the most appropriate areas for recovery and the use of drones for monitoring.

To stop deforestation and avoid the point of no return in the Amazon, it is important to promote nature-based solutions (NbS) to the different fronts of deforestation. For this reason, in 2018, WWF-Peru began to teach new methodologies and technologies to increase livestock activity, recover damaged ecosystems and reduce forest pressure.

To develop this process, farmer field schools were held, where 200 farmers were trained in topics such as the installation of silvopastoral systems, rotational grazing, or biofertilizers. More people are interested because of the positive impact on their production and economic income. Farmer field schools continue to teach classes in the provinces of Tahuamanu and Tambopata with the hope of recovering the forest degraded by this economic activity.

“The work of WWF-Peru in Madre de Dios in these first 20 years of conservation work is the beginning of a long road to restoring ecosystems degraded by mining, illegal logging, and poor agricultural practices. The work with authorities, local communities, indigenous people,  academy, and the private sector could make it possible the desire of the region to be low carbon by 2030, under a system of sustainable development”, said Nelson Gutiérrez, Manager of Forests and Indigenous Affairs of WWF Peru.