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Our work is focused on a critical place on Earth. The headwaters region of the southwestern Amazon is a leading priority for the conservation of our planet's terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity. We have developed a series of field sites ranging from the highest elevations of cloud forest along the eastern slope of the Andes down into the Amazon lowlands. This sweep of land harbors the greatest known richness of species on the planet and offers millions of plants and animals a refuge from climate change. Unlike flat terrain, the altitudinal relief from the Andes mountains to the Amazon allows plants and animals to readjust their distribution as the world becomes hotter and drier.

Our area of operation in southeastern Peru and northern Bolivia contains 10-15 percent of all the bird and butterfly species known on the planet. Top predators such as harpy eagles, giant otters, black caiman, and jaguars thrive in the region, signaling a healthy ecosystem. The Andean foothills are also the spawning ground for the majority of large migratory fish that feed people throughout the Amazon basin.

Most importantly, these areas remain biologically connected by a sea of forest spanning tens of millions of acres. This expanse of wilderness is blessed with an absence of roads and low population pressure. Dozens of indigenous cultures that remain in the region live in a largely traditional, low-impact manner. Indeed, this is one of the last areas on the planet where rainforest peoples still live without trade, money or metal, beyond modern society’s consumptive reach.

Yet this is no time for complacency. Pressure to log and to colonize this region grows daily. The protected areas are weak and, in some cases, exist only on paper. Large areas of state-owned habitat remain without protected status and have an uncertain land-use future. Government zoning for habitat protection and scientific research are thus a crucial first target for investment. To help protect this tropical wilderness and the people who live there, we:

  • Develop world-class research centers and model private protected areas
  • Train a new generation of Latin American ecologists and resource managers
  • Create sustainable economic and social benefits for the local populace
  • Develop new ecosystem management understanding and practices
  • Maintain the biological connectivity of the mega-corridor

Read more about ACA's goals, strategy and accomplishments.


Headwaters region

The headwaters region of the southwestern Amazon is the greatest priority for the conservation of terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity. Photo: Ronald Catpo


This is one of the last areas on the planet where rainforest peoples still live without trade, money or metal, beyond the consumptive tendrils of modern society. Photo: Andre Bärtschi


Jaguar along a riverbank at Manu National Park. Photo: Miguel Moran

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