The 2014 Kaypi Perú festival was brimming with distinct forms of dance, music, and art that filled the event with a flavor as varied and unique as the country itself.
For the festival, ACA unveiled our photo exhibit, “From the Andes to the Amazon: Conservation, Culture, and Diversity,” featuring 30 photographs shot by Gabby Salazar across our project area that illustrate the rich cultural and biological diversity of the region, as well as the increasing threats it faces. Lectures from Gabby, ACA co-founder Enrique Ortiz, and ACA Executive Director Hannah Stutzman spoke to the incredible value of the ecosystems and communities we are working to protect.
Our work is focused in the southwestern Amazon, one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet and a global priority for conservation. It is also home to numerous indigenous peoples that depend on forest resources for their livelihoods and cultural identity.
ACA partners with local communities to build capacity in forest management and protection, to help indigenous communities secure legal rights to their ancestral land for conservation, and to promote opportunities for local people to earn sustainable incomes. Our efforts serve the dual purpose of protecting the forest while supporting the people that inhabit it. These efforts include:
- We support 34 communities in the Andes-Amazon region as they protect and manage the forest resources that are central to their culture and to their livelihoods.
- We have provided technical support to more than 420 families earning a living as Brazil nut harvesters, a livelihood which provides a viable and ecologically sound alternative to destructive economic activities. Since Brazil nuts can only produce fruit in healthy rainforest ecosystems, our Brazil nut program has protected over 1.5 million acres of tropical rainforest.
- In 2001, our Peruvian sister organization, Conservación Amazónica–ACCA, facilitated the creation of the world’s first conservation concession run by an indigenous group, allowing the Queros-Wachiperi indigenous community to act as the social and environmental authority over their land.
- Our three biological stations welcome scientists and researchers striving to learn more about the incredible biodiversity of the region, and we host programs for children from local communities who have a deep appreciation of the land’s value, but lack information about topics such as biodiversity and climate change. We also provide scholarships for Peruvian students to travel to our stations for research.
These are just some of the ways that we support sustainable livelihoods and work with local communities to protect forests and biodiversity across southeastern Peru. Our celebration of culture for Kaypi Perú 2014 was also a celebration of the rich ecosystems and wildlife that form the vibrant Peruvian landscape, and another step toward ensuring their protection.
Next month, a group of Wisconsin birders will trek to Peru to participate in 9 days of bird counts and tallies, all in the name of fun and conservation. And they could use your help!
Since 2011, Craig Thompson has been leading groups of birders from the La Crosse, Wisconsin area to southeastern Peru—birding paradise. The group will spend time at Wayqecha Cloud Forest Biological Station and Villa Carmen Biological Station; the stations’ distinct habitats provide an opportunity for even more species sightings.
But the birders aren’t only trying to best previous Birdathon counts for bragging rights. Through this event, they are also raising money for the conservation work at the core of ACA’s mission. Want to join in? You can make a per-species pledge, with a correct guess getting the chance to win a copy of Birds of Peru. You can also make a fixed donation to ACA online or via check (make sure to note your donation as “Birdathon”). Thank you, and stay tuned for this year’s species total!
Left: Martin Pescador by José María Fernandez
As the new Executive Director of the Amazon Conservation Association, I’m thrilled for the chance to work with all of our supporters to help the world’s lungs, the Andes–Amazon, breathe a little easier. Before this, I spent 4 years as Director of Programs at ACA, overseeing our Manu–Tambopata Corridor (MAT) project as well as managing other large-scale grants and strategies.
This year is an anniversary one for our organization: it’s the 15th for both ACA and our sister organization in Peru, Conservación Amazónica–ACCA, and the 10th for our main partner organization in Bolivia, ACEAA. It’s a good opportunity to reflect on where we’ve been and where we’re going. I am so excited to work with our talented team as we take ACA into its next 15 years, and continue doing my part to further its mission to conserve Amazonian biodiversity.
Working in conservation in the Andes-Amazon was a natural fit for me. I grew up in a family that lived in and traveled in Latin America, and as a kid immediately fell in love with the wonder of tropical forests. I’ve followed this passion by working for environmental organizations in Colombia and the U.S. I was drawn to ACA because of its focus on putting resources in the field, developing innovative solutions to conservation challenges, and creating science-based programs.
All of this clicked for me when I was in the field with the MAT Corridor, talking to community members participating in the project. They shared with me how legal support and planting trees for agroforestry was helping them protect their land from illegal invasion by gold miners. It was powerful to see firsthand how our work was helping forests and communities.
As you know, it takes all of us to protect the Andes–Amazon. I want to thank you for sharing ACA’s message on social media, sending in donations, getting your boots muddy visiting our three biological stations, and all of the other ways you have supported ACA over the past 15 years—your involvement creates greater success for our efforts. You are an integral part of our global network (2.2 million acres conserved and counting), so I hope you will continue to stay connected to us. I would love to hear about what’s important to you about our work.
I am eager to work with you in the months and years ahead. Thank you in advance, and here’s to ACA’s next 15 years!