Cesar Moran-Cahusac began as ACA’s Executive Director in August 2007. Born in Lima, Peru, Cesar has worked on a wide spectrum of conservation projects.
At the Agrarian University of Lima (La Molina) where he studied animal sciences, he developed a hands-on environmental education program based on organic gardening for school children in Lima. He also worked for seven years as the Project Coordinator for the Machu Picchu Program, a debt for nature swap between Finland and Peru, which supported Machu Picchu’s environmental management.
Cesar received his graduate degree in Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry. He is based in Puerto Maldonado, Peru, but travels frequently to our project sites.
Converting muddy-boots field work to high-quality research takes years of hard work, but it’s beginning to pay off for our young research program in the Amazon. In the first six months of 2008 alone, work done at the Los Amigos Biological Station (CICRA, its Spanish acronym) generated 11 peer-reviewed articles, two Ph.D. dissertations, and half a dozen theses by Peruvian undergraduates.
In that same stretch, science at Los Amigos was featured in popular magazines in the United States (Natural History), Peru (Somos), and Italy (Natura). This publication rate puts us on par with the most productive research programs in the Amazon, like the Smithsonian’s 30-year forest fragments project in Manaus. And everything suggests that the productivity of Los Amigos scientists will keep building for the next several years. If you’re short of reading material, look for a flood of it coming soon to the ACCA website.
As the Interoceanic Highway is paved across highly biodiverse southeastern Peru, it is expected that forest loss will increase dramatically. Road improvement in the Amazon is typically associated with increased rates of deforestation, colonization, illegal logging, and land clearing for farming, artisanal gold mining, and cattle ranching. These practices spread through the construction of illegal secondary roads and increased in-migration. By some estimates, the paving could result in a 60 mile-wide swath of deforestation between Manu National Park and Tambopata National Reserve.
The Interoceanic Highway is especially problematic because it runs through previously remote, sparsely populated areas of pristine tropical forest. These forests are home to jaguars, giant river otters, rare bush dogs, and Harpy eagles.
ACA’s Interoceanic Highway Mitigation Strategy aims to reduce rampant deforestation by creating three major conservation corridors, which protect forest at high risk of logging and burning. The first corridor to be designed is the Malinowsky Conservation Corridor, which will conserve 210,000 hectares (518,920 acres) of primary forest. The Malinowsky Corridor preserves a forested corridor between Manú National Park and Tambopata National Reserve via ACA’s Los Amigos Conservation Concession
In dialogue with regional government and local partner organizations, ACA is designing the Malinowsky Corridor to include a mosaic of protected areas and support sustainable development alternatives to logging and slash-and-burn farming. Some of the proposed sustainable development alternatives include: sustainable forestry, community agroforestry, ecotourism, and carbon finance. These tools can ensure conservation of forest and biodiversity across the last continuous forest in the southwestern Amazon. They can also avoid the emissions of millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
ACA is partnering with schools to develop environmental awareness both nationally and internationally. With ACA’s support, students at these schools have learned about biodiversity conservation and have sponsored fundraising events to help support ACA’s work.
Through the efforts of Roger’s Park Montessori School of Chicago, IL, Davies County High School Spanish Club of Owensboro, KY, Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy of West Springfield, MA, Mill Lake School of Monroe Township, NJ, and the Year 3 children of the International School of The Hague, Netherlands, over $1,800 has been donated to ACA, protecting over 600 acres of Peruvian rainforest.
Here at ACA we are thrilled to share our passion for environmental conservation through education. We look forward to more opportunities to work with students and schools to build an increasingly environmentally conscious community.
On June 5, 2008, ACA’s Peruvian sister organization, ACCA, was awarded the Public Recognition for Environmental Stewardship by the Regional Government of Cusco. This prize is awarded annually in celebration of World Environment Day through Cusco’s Agency of Natural Resources and Environmental Management. ACCA won for its work creating the first conservation concession for an indigenous Peruvian community, the Huachipaire Haramba Queros.
This is in addition to recognition for ACCA’s research advances in the Wayqecha Cloud Forest, the preservation of 146,000 hectares (360,000 acres) of land in the Los Amigos River basin, and the establishment of more than 310,000 hectares (766,000 acres) of Brazil nut concessions benefiting more than 400 families.
Since early 2007, ACA has partnered with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) “D-Lab” to send engineering students interested in sustainable development issues to work in Peru.
Jesse Austin-Brenemen, the first D-Lab volunteer to work with ACCA, helped to develop a simple and inexpensive machine to remove the shell of Sacha Inchi, or Incan Peanut, which can be grown as a sustainable forest product.
Sacha Inchi is an Amazonian plant that is considered the richest vegetable source of Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids that protect the heart and lower cholesterol. Jesse trained members of the Agroecological Sacha Inchi Producers Association (APASI–Manu) to use and replicate the machine using local materials.
July 2, 2008 marked the establishment of the world’s first conservation concession managed by an indigenous group. The Haramba Queros Wachiperi Ecological Reserve protects 6,976 hectares (17,238 acres) of highly biodiverse forest located in the Amazon rainforest of southeastern Peru.
The signing ceremony took place in Lima with Haramba Queros leaders, representatives of Peru’s Natural Resource Agency (INRENA), and members of ACA and ACCA that brokered the agreement.
The Amazonian Haramba Queros are a Harakambut-speaking community of 56 individuals in Madre de Dios, Peru. The conservation concession provides a buffer against the impacts of climate change. It secures the Queros’ water supply and source of medicinal plants, sustains their access to forest products, and serves as a mechanism to help the community maintain their cultural traditions.
The Queros conservation concession is part of the ecological buffer zone for the world-renowned Manú National Park, in Madre de Dios and Cusco, Peru. The concession also sequesters significant reserves of carbon dioxide, which helps slow climate change. The creation of concessions such as the Wachiperi Ecological Reserve will be increasingly important as the global community continues to deal with a changing and unpredictable climate.