Directors of three protected areas in the Tropical Andes biodiversity hotspot signed a landmark transnational agreement in April to jointly coordinate and implement management efforts. In Peru, the government also officially designated two new protected areas in Manu Province, totaling more than 1.2 million hectares.
The actions dramatically advance turning the vision for the Vilcabamba-Amboró conservation corridor, a 30-million-hectare expanse of high biodiversity straddling the Bolivia-Peru border, into a reality.
A special Conservation International coordination team funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) facilitated the new transnational agreement for joint management of three areas in Bolivia and Peru. The three areas—Madidi National Park in Bolivia and Bahuaja-Sonene National Park and Tambopata National Reserve in Peru—share common borders and are priority sites for conservation in the corridor.
The agreement includes joint patrol efforts on the borders of the three areas, development of a master plan for Bahuaja-Sonene and Madidi national parks, a training course on monitoring for park rangers and exchange of information on biodiversity threats. It also includes joint actions to directly benefit communities, such as an evaluation of ecotourism in Bahuaja-Sonene and Tambopata and socioeconomic research on the catch of paiche, a commercially valuable fish species.
Shortly after signing the transnational agreement, the Peruvian government issued a decree officially declaring a new protected area and upgrading the classification of another in the corridor.
The April 19 decree changed the classification of the 402,000-hectare Amarakaeri reserve zone to a communal reserve, providing it official legal status and enabling community management. In addition, the decree created an 830,000-hectare reserve to protect the cultures and land of uncontacted indigenous communities—groups that wish to remain isolated from the encroachment of modern civilization.
The decree is a result of joint efforts by the First Lady's Office; Federación de Nativos de Madre de Dios (FENAMAD), a federation of local indigenous groups; and WWF.
In March, the Peruvian government, with the help of the coordination team, created and distributed approximately 4,000 promotional packets about the corridor to U.S. State Department officials, local organizations and the general public during a visit by U.S. President George W. Bush to Peru. The packet included an interactive CD with information about the corridor, which is the focus of the CEPF investment strategy in the Tropical Andes.