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Conservation across borders in the heart of the Amazon
WWF’s Global 200, priority ecoregions whose conservation is essential for the protection and preservation of global diversity, cover large expanses that often straddle political borders.
Swietenia macrophylla Mahogany tree or © WWF / André BÄRTSCHI

As a result, WWF's approach and actions are not confined by political boundaries, and require concerted actions with governments and institutions from many countries. Such is the case of SWA.

The context

The Southwestern Amazon Moist Forests Global 200 ecoregion (SWA G200) is an area encompassing parts of Brazil, Peru and Bolivia. It contains some of the richest and largest tracts of intact tropical rainforest found in the entire Amazon Basin.

These forests are the habitat of threatened species like the jaguar and the harpy eagle. They are also home to dozens of indigenous groups, some of whom have not been contacted by 'civilization', as well as scattered populations of traditional Brazil nut gatherers and rubber-tappers.

However, in spite of their relative isolation, the SWA forests are threatened by the opening and paving of roads that provide access to a growing population of small farmers, oil and gas exploration, as well as large-scale cattle ranching and agribusiness.

The opportunity

For WWF, the next 5-10 years represent a unique window of opportunity to help establish a conservation landscape that can ensure the protection of a significant portion of the biological and cultural resources of this ecoregion.

The targets

The Biodiversity Vision of the Southwestern Amazon Moist Forests ecoregion has set several targets for the conservation and sustainable use of the area’s biological resources.

These targets include increased protected areas and improved management and policy. In the long term, there are strong expectations that this will make the maintenance of protected and managed areas possible.

The achievements

Through the creation of the Alto Purús National Park and the Purus Communal Reserve (27,242 km2), and the Murunahua Territorial Reserve (6,000 km2), WWF has already achieved great progress towards the protection target.

Effective management has also been ensured for several protected areas including Alto Purús. In terms of certification in the area, considerable advances have been made - notably in Bolivia - both for timber extraction and Brazil nuts.

Other notable achievements include ecological–economic zoning of Madre de Dios - Acre – Pando (also known as MAP region), mitigation of the negative environmental impacts of small-scale gold mining in Madre de Dios and capacity-building of scientific and administrative authorities to initiate implementation of the mahogany listing.

Manu National Park - Alto Madre de Dios river at 500m. Lowland rainforest, landscapes, flora and ... rel= © WWF / André BÄRTSCHI

In the very heart of the SWA: the Madre de Dios, Acre, Pando (MAP) region

The project  “FOREST AND LIFE, Integral vision for the Amazon’s development” aims to optimize economic benefits based on forest resources. Specific efforts are directed to land management, competitiveness and participation in local productive activities - with emphasis on Brazil nuts - including influencing public policies. The scope of the Project reaches into Amazonian portions of Bolivia, Peru and Brazil.

Where and why?

The region known as MAP involves the peripheral areas of Madre de Dios (Peru), Acre (Brazil) and Pando (Bolivia), and constitutes the heart of the Southwestern Amazon Moist Forests ecoregion. The elevated levels of rainfall and the influence of the temperate winds from the south contribute to the formation of unique tropical forests and harbour some of the richest and most intact forests on Earth.

The MAP region is inhabited by indigenous and peasant communities, small private property owners as well as large landowners (fazendeiros) in Brazil, timber and non-timber concessionaires (e.g. Brazil nut) in Bolivia and inhabitants of rapidly growing urban settlements. The majority of the rural inhabitants, as well as urban-rural inhabitants, are also dedicated to subsistence agriculture and cattle ranching.

On the other hand, the region is the target of important infrastructure development projects such as the inter-oceanic highway. This highway, while also representing an opportunity for the region’s development, could become a great threat if the necessary measures are not taken to minimize the negative environmental and social impacts it could generate.

What WWF is doing

The project seeks to improve the capacity of local organizations in the region and contributes to the development of a strategy to achieve sustainable development and conservation, promoting partnerships regarding land tenure and forest management through the participation of local academic and technical organizations, local and regional governments, private sector and community organizations.

One of the activities involves developing a Brazil nut Management Plan in the community of Turi located in the Municipality of Sena. This project is being carried out in collaboration with the Integral Agro-extractive Farmers Cooperative of Pando (COINACAPA), the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the Municipality of Sena.

WWF is responsible for the implementation of the project, but its design and follow-up is shared among a Consortium of six international organizations: WWF, CARE, Conservation International (CI), SNV – Dutch Service for Development Cooperation, The Nature Conservancy and TBI - Tropenbos International.