Donate to ACA this Holiday Season!

donate nowACA protects the biological diversity of the wilderness areas of the Amazon headwaters. Our strategy is to increase conservation capacity through science, training and sustainable resource management through collaborations with local and international organizations.

Your tax-deductible contribution will help us expand our conservation initiatives in the southwestern Amazon, where leading research shows the highest concentrations of biological diversity exist.

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This year's holiday campaign is focused on protecting the forests around Lake Huitoto in Madre de Dios, Peru. Nestled alongside Peru’s winding Madre de Dios River is Lake Huitoto, an impressive 500-acre oxbow lake whose waters and surrounding forests harbor the endangered giant river otter, black caiman, taricaya turtle, and countless bird species. Now imagine this spectacular haven, and the sustainable family business that protects it, threatened by illegal deforestation.


Source: El Comercio, Peru: Lake Huitoto could disappear due to mining contamination, June 17, 2011

Gilberto Vela, his wife Flor, and their two children hold legal rights to operate an ecotourism business that protects 2,400 acres of forest and Lake Huitoto. Prior to this, the Velas made their living selling supplies to small-scale miners searching for gold in the waters of the Madre de Dios River. Gilberto recalls how the family was transformed by their first sight of Lago Huitoto: 

Vela family“Our adventure began when we first saw Lago Huitoto; it was a very exciting time because it changed the way we think and feel about our environment. Right away we were struck by the enormous variety of flora and fauna…. We couldn’t stop thinking about the lake, and that made us think about how we could work on something that was more environmentally friendly.”

As of that day, the Velas vowed to protect this lake. However, to their dismay, a new gold rush threatened to strip the forested shores of Lake Huitoto and contaminate its waters with runoff of toxic mercury used in nearby mines. The invasion by miners, together with difficulties in working with forest management authorities and a lack of business experience, forced the family to let the concession go unused and unprotected even as they worried that it was becoming irreversably degraded. However, this picture has been changing since Amazon Conservation Association (ACA) began lending a hand to help the Velas.

Lake HuitotoACA is working closely with the Vela family to develop a sustainable ecotourism business that will protect over 2,400 acres of Lake Huitoto’s rich ecosystems. ACA and the Velas are working together to convince the government to formally classify the lake as a protected area. Enlisting the government’s active, long-term protection of this valuable asset for both tourism and biodiversity will help ensure that the Vela family’s investments in building a thriving ecotourism business remain secure. With ACA’s help, the Velas are reenergized and working hard to implement their new conservation-focused business.

Some of ACA’s activities to help Lake Huitoto and the Vela family:

  • ACA led efforts to establish a Regional Conservation Area to provide legal backing for the lake’s protection, particularly to address threats from illegal miners.
  • We aided the Velas in developing new management and business plans for the area, ensuring full compliance with Peruvian law and best practices for sustainable tourism.
  • We also created a partnership with the local university to study Lago Huitoto’s ecotourism resources and demonstrate the value of the Velas’ ecotourism concession, while providing needed biological data.

This is only one of the many wonderful stories of how ACA works to support conservation efforts and local sustainable development in the Amazon... and none of this could have been done without the aid of generous donors. With your support, ACA can continue to be a catalyst for conservation and sustainable livelihood efforts throughout the region.

How Your Donation Helps

Help us carry on our efforts to conserve this area’s unique biodiversity by tapping into Peru’s growing ecotourism market. Your donation will allow us to move forward on the following critical projects:

  • Designate a new regional conservation area to protect over 34,500 acres of forest at the headwaters of the Jayave River—the source of drinking and irrigation water for many local famers—and develop an ecotourism project to create sustainable, long-term financing for this protected area.
  • Continue to support the Haramba Queros Wachiperi Ecological Reserve by assisting this indigenous community in creating an ecotourism business to support their reserve.
  • Foster sustainable community ecotourism through capacity-building and technical assistance, including business plan development, tourism inventories, creation of technically rigorous management plans, business skills education, and development of market linkages within the Amazon’s biggest conservation corridor.

You play a critical role in saving the Amazon and we cannot do it without you. Together, we have protected over five million acres of rainforest and supported thousands of families who want to keep the forest healthy for their grandchildren. Please consider making a tax-deductible end-of-year donation to ACA so we may continue this vital work.

We thank you for your ongoing support and wish you a happy holiday season!

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Photo of frog

Leaf frog at Los Amigos Biological Station. Photo: Trond Larsen

Photo of orchids

Orchids at the Wayqecha Cloud Forest Research Station. Photo: Megan MacDowell

Photo of a girl holding a carved toy

Girl with carved Agouti paca. Photo: Joaquin Leguia

Photo of a three-toed sloth

Three-toed sloth at Los Amigos Conservation Concession. Photo: Susan Cousineau



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