In 2005, ACA and ACCA created Peru’s only permanent field research station focused on cloud forest ecology and management. This 1,450-acre research center, called Wayqecha (“brother” in Quechua), sits 3,000 meters above sea level. The station is located in the Kcosñipata Valley (“fly” to the station—watch the video on YouTube) in the department of Cusco, in southeastern Peru, where it serves as a buffer along the southern edge of Manu National Park.
The Wayqecha Cloud Forest Biological Station is situated in one of the world’s most important biodiversity hotspots, where the eastern slopes of the tropical Andes meet the Amazonian lowlands. Tremendous climatic changes occur as the landscape sweeps from snow-capped mountains to the treeless plains and dry valleys of the altiplano before a sudden descent into steep cloud forests and the broad expanse of the low-lying Amazon floodplain. This topographic complexity has resulted in an exceptional array of habitats sustaining a vast number of species.
The Wayqecha Cloud Forest Biological Station is an ideal venue for workshops, field trips, service projects and more. The Center offers:
For reservations at Wayqecha or inquiries, email . Download our Wayqecha Visitor's Guide (pdf).
The Wayqecha Cloud Forest Biological Station hosts researchers from Peru and around the world. The organization provides scholarships to an average of 20 university students per year to study local biota, ecosystem interactions, and the impacts of climate change on the cloud forest. In addition, the site is used as a center for environmental education and training courses for local students. As an example, during 2010, the Wayqecha Research Station hosted 511 researchers and 313 students.
Current research at Wayqecha includes a multidisciplinary project addressing carbon cycling in montane forests and soils, and another predicting Andean montane forest response to climate change. Other studies analyze plant and animal diversity patterns along the Andean elevational gradient.
Read about ACA's Birdathon - which passed through Wayqecha in August of 2011 and 2012.
Learn more about Wayqecha on YouTube!
The cloud forests where the eastern slopes of the Andes meet the Amazonian lowlands constitute one of the world’s greatest conservation priorities. In these headwater regions of the Amazon, dramatic variations in altitude, slope, aspect, exposure, and geological substrate produce some of the highest levels of biological diversity on Earth. Species such as Andean Cock-of-the-Rock and the Spectacled Bear can be found here, as well as countless species of birds and orchids.
Furthermore, the cloud forests act as a giant sponge, absorbing rain, condensing clouds and gradually releasing the water into the watersheds below, mitigating flooding and landslides and reducing sedimentation for downstream populations. These headwater regions are also where the majority of Amazonian migratory fish spawn. These fish in turn provide the bulk of the protein for human consumption throughout the entire Amazon basin.
Unfortunately, these cloud forests are under considerable pressure from agricultural expansion as settlers move into the region. These settlers typically do not have locally adapted agricultural skills, such as the Inca had developed in the highlands. Instead they use slash-and-burn techniques to clear pasture for cattle and to plant crops. Because of the highly erosive terrain and leaching of the soils, much of this agriculture is unsustainable. Moreover, fires used to clear land often spread out of control, leading to further loss of this precious habitat. Since they come from different regions, many local people are unaware of the significance and uniqueness of the forests, and lack the knowledge and skills necessary to manage their land in a way that ensures the long-term health of its natural resources.
Cloud forest trees covered with lush vegetation. Photo: Adrian Tejedor.
Golden-collared Tanager (Iridosornis jelskii) at Wayqecha. Photo: Francisco Llacma
Amethyst-throated Sunangel (Heliangelus amethysticollis) at ACA's Wayqecha Biological Station. Photo: Trond Larsen
One of the hundreds of orchid species found at Wayqecha. Photo: Megan MacDowell
Cabins overlooking the cloud forest at Wayqecha Cloud Forest Biological Station. Photo: ACA
View from cabin at Wayqecha. Photo: Cesar Moran
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