MAAP #51: Fires Degrade 7 Protected Areas in Northern Peru


Peru’s intense 2016 fire season continues, most recently hitting the northern part of the country.

As seen in this map on the left, during November 2016 the highest concentration of fire alerts (as detected by the VIIRS satellite sensor) were concentrated in the headwaters of the northern Amazon basin (departments of Cajamarca, Piura, and Lambayeque).

Image 51a. Data: VIIRS/INPE, SERNANP.
Image 51a. Data: VIIRS/INPE, SERNANP.

It appears that the primary cause of these fires is poor agricultural burning practices during a time of intense drought. These conditions allowed fires to escape into protected areas, including 6 national-level protected areas and 1 municipal protected area.

Until additional cloud-free satellite images are available it is difficult to quantify the total burned area. However, by analyzing the currently available imagery, we estimate 1,980 acres burned in 3 of the protected areas (Laquipampa Wildlife Refuge, Chicuate-Chinguelas PCA, and Cachiaco-San Pablo PCA). The Peruvian protected areas agency, SERNANP, estimates an additional 1,000 acres burned in the Pagaibamba Protected Forest. In addition, by analyzing fire alert data, we estimate that an additional 890 acres affected in the other 3 protected areas (Cutervo National Park, Tabaconas Namballe National Sanctuary, and Huaricancha PCA. See below for details.

Moreover, the Peruvian civil society organization SPDA is highlighting that one of the main problems is the lack of fire-related planning by the Peruvian government, which since 2001 has not fulfilled its mandate to create a National System of Fire Prevention and Control.

Amazon Conservation hosts course on neotropical birds

Amazon Conservation held its second course on ecology, taxonomy and conservation of neotropical birds at our Los Amigos Biological Station in Peru earlier in September. The course was held for Peruvians in conjunction with, the Arequipa Museum of Natural History (MUSA) and the Center for Ornithology and Biodiversity (CORBIDI). The purpose of bringing together these organizations was to continue our goal of training the next generation of Peruvian ornithologists to grow bird conservation and awareness in the country.

My unforgettable birding trip to the Peruvian Amazon

Birds and wildlife, that’s what I was hoping to see on my journey to the tropical rainforest in southeastern Peru with conservationists from Amazon Conservation. Our destination was Amazon Conservation’s Los Amigos lodge and research station, part of a pristine 350,000 acre conservation concession area bordering the iconic Manu National Park. Traveling to the lodge on a lovely four hour boat ride up the Madre de Dios river set the tone for our adventure. We scanned the river banks and were rewarded with jabirus, horned screamers, wood storks and black hawk-eagles in flight, pied lapwings and large-billed terns on sandbanks, a collared peccary swimming across the river and a large capybara by the shoreline. Mining activity was also present along the river, a stark reminder of the importance of protecting habitat.

Get to know our bird guide extraordinaire: Q&A with Percy Avendaño

When you’re in the middle of the Amazon rainforest it’s essential to count on a trusted guide to help you see all the hidden treasures that you might be missing. Meet Percy Avendaño, our staff naturalist and birding guide. He has experience guiding expert-level birders and casual naturalists alike, and our visitors rave about his knowledge of birds and nature, his friendliness and resourcefulness.Percy is also a Top eBirder, ranking second in the world for 2016’s Global Big Day, with 257 species spotted at our Villa Carmen lodge. Learn about how he came to work with Amazon Conservation, what the birding industry is like in Peru and what a birding adventure might look like with Percy as your guide!