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Conservation Corridors

The Manu - Tambopata Conservation Corridor

The Manu - Tambopata Conservation Corridor (MAT) is a 518,921 acre area of rainforest in the southwestern Amazon. One of the most biologically diverse regions in the world, the area is widely recognized as a global conservation priority. ACA's MAT initiative will protect this keystone Amazonian habitat, which provides critical ecosystem services such as regulating the climate for the Amazon basin, storing globally significant levels of carbon, and protecting the headwaters of the Amazon.

The MAT Corridor is the last unprotected piece of a large chain of conservation areas called the Vilcabamba - Amboró Mega Corridor, which when complete will create a passageway for jaguars, peccaries, macaws, and giant anteaters to flourish between world-renowned Manu National Park in Peru and Madidi National Park in Bolivia. Directly linking ACA's Los Amigos Conservation Concession and the Tambopata National Reserve, the LAT Corridor will conserve critical habitat and create a buffer for some of the region's most important protected areas.

ACA Projects Map Map by Nelson Guitierrez, ACCA. Click to see a larger view (194KB PDF).

What is a conservation corridor? A conservation corridor is a typically linear area of pristine habitat that connects animal and plant populations to each other to ensure that they can flourish, a service that is called "connectivity." Often these corridors are established in areas where there is a clear threat to at-risk species and their habitats.

The MAT Corridor has been proposed with the most innovative conservation tools and strategies in mind. Using Peruvian legal tools and emerging international markets for "green" products, the MAT Corridor is designed as a mosaic of interconnected conservation areas and sustainable economic activity zones, which provide incentives for conservation-based industries that can help mitigate the environmental impacts of the Interoceanic Highway.

The Interoceanic Highway is expected to be completed in 2011, when it will run from the Atlantic Ocean in Brazil to the Pacific coast of Peru, cutting through remote areas of the southwestern Amazon. The Manu - Tambopata Conservation Corridor is a strategy to preserve biological connectivity, ecological function, and biodiversity across vital ecosystems.

Why a conservation corridor? Road-building in the Amazon is notorious for provoking waves of development and uncontrolled deforestation. The Interoceanic Highway is no exception, and is predicted to precipitate deforestation within a 50 km radius, reaching into the Tambopata National Park and Brazil nut concessions that communities depend on for sustainable income.

Without a sound conservation plan, predatory land uses associated with road construction, such as illegal logging, cattle ranching, gold mining, and slash-and-burn farming, are likely to cause widespread deforestation and degradation.

How do you create a conservation corridor? In the first phase of the MAT Initiative, ACA conducted biological and socioeconomic baseline studies and a comprehensive connectivity assessment.  These tools will help us create a science-based corridor design, determining the shape and orientation of the corridor that will connect the final piece of the Vilcabamba - Amboró Mega Corridor.

We are also developing a portfolio of innovative conservation tools to mitigate the environmental impacts of the Interoceanic Highway. These conservation tools offer local communities environmentally sustainable economic opportunities that preserve the rainforest while making a profit for the local community. ACA collaborates with an array of partners to develop:

  • smart conservation policy and land-use zoning,
  • participatory management of conservation areas, and
  • environmental markets that create incentives to for local people adopt conservation-based practices that also make a profit, such as agroforestry, ecotourism, and REDD.

VA Corridor MapMap by Conservation International. Click to see a larger view (697KB PDF).

The Mosaic

Conservation Areas

ACA will employ all conservation laws and tools available to preserve rainforest in the MAT Corridor. We have already launched a sister initiative to the MAT, which offers technical assistance and technology transfers to regional governments to help them implement ecosystem-based land use planning, often known as ecological-economic zoning in Latin America.

As part of this initiative, we are co-presenting a proposal for regional conservation areas (RCAs), a designation like U.S. state parks that will protect critical ecosystems across Madre de Dios, Peru. In Peru, RCAs are a new opportunity to protect rainforest and conserve biodiversity. Another new tool is the recent creation of municipal conservation areas, similar to U.S. county parks or city-run biological preserves, which allow mayors to create small conservation areas within district limits.

We continue to support the expansion of conservation concessions in Peru, of which our Los Amigos Conservation Concession was the first. Conservation concessions are public lands that are privately-managed for conservation ends. They require five-year conservation management plans, and can be supported by endowments and donations. Donate to support Los Amigos.

Critical Ecosystems

The MAT Corridor will conserve some of the region's largest moriche palm swamps, known in Spanish as aguajales, a critically threatened ecosystem that provides refuge for overhunted species and sequesters vast amounts of greenhouse gases. Destruction of these areas could cause local extinctions and thousands of tons of emissions of carbon dioxide and methane. Friend of ACA, Michael Goulding, has written a book that where you can find lots of information about palm swamps.

Ecotourism

Travelers looking to experience the rich array of orchids, birds, and other species that inhabit the Amazon support the local economy while leaving minimal environmental impact through ecotourism. In Peru, communities and local businesses can rent public land for conservation-appropriate tourism activities, a system known as ecotourism concessions.

ACA offers technical support to conservation-minded ecotourism developers to create business plans, infrastructure, basic marketing, and sustainable management plans for the land. A percentage of ecotourism revenues is designated for the protection of these conservation areas.

Community Agroforestry

Community agroforestry projects are a sustainable land-use option that enables communities to earn a profit while reforesting degraded land along the highway. ACA provides communities with the tools, inputs, and training necessary for establishing communal nurseries and producing seedlings. Over the course of a few years, these seedlings grow into trees and plants that give tropical fruits and nuts, essential oils , natural dyes, and building materials that can be sold in local and international markets.

REDD - Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation

The Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change estimates that cutting down forests is now contributing 20 percent of the global greenhouse gases. The Manu - Tambopata Conservation Corridor provides local communities the opportunity to benefit financially by promising to protect their forest and avoiding the emissions of greenhouse gases that comes from deforestation. Communities can band together in associations and sell carbon credits on global markets in exchange for the promise not to deforest, sustainably financing conservation and improving their living standards. These REDD projects will receive technical, financial, and administrative support from ACA.

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Photo of jaguar

Jaguar at Los Amigos. Photo: Sam Abell

Photo of the view of Cocha Huitoto from above

View of Cocha Huitoto from above. Photo: Andre Bärtschi



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