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Ecotourism: Supporting conservation and livelihoods

The benefits of ecotourism are many but the idea revolves around three main advantages for the area in which it operates. The first tenet is that the ecotourism venture must help to conserve the environment. Second, local populations must be direct beneficiaries of the venture through benefits such as education, income, and preservation of local culture. The third principle of ecotourism is that it provides educational benefits to those that visit the area but also to the local population creating a deeper investment in conserving the area by both tourists and locals. These three components of ecotourism make it a valuable tool in the work that the Amazon Conservation Association is doing to help our ongoing mission to help protect the biodiversity of the Amazon while also supporting the livelihoods of local communities.

Santa Rosa de Huacaria

For the past several years, ACA has worked with the Santa Rosa de Huacaria community to develop projects that support local livelihoods and cultural traditions while still promoting conservation. (Two-thirds of the Santa Rosa de Huacaria communal territory lies within Manu National Park and plays a crucial role connecting several regional and national protected areas.) In 2014, we helped community members in Santa Rosa de Huacaria establish a company to sell their handicrafts. Through the creation of jewelry, dolls, bags, and other textiles crafted using materials and dyes from the forest (typically produced by the local women’s association), community members generate income while also celebrating their culture. In 2014, community members sold their wares at two artisan fairs in Pilcopata (the town neighboring Villa Carmen) and in Cusco.

Huacaria has also had great success through its ACA-supported fish farming program, which bred nearly 15,000 native fish hatchlings in the winter of 2013–2014. They are available for sale and represent a consistent protein source for the community. Over a homecooked lunch in the community, visitors have the opportunity to taste fresh paco for themselves, try their hand at archery, take medicinal plant walks, and more.

rev. June 2015

Introducing the Manu Cloud Forest Canopy Walkway

The Amazon Conservation Association in partnership with Asociación para la Conservación de la Cuenca Amazónica has begun to invest in the idea of ecotourism and scientific tourism through the construction of the Manu Cloud Forest Canopy Walkway. The Walkway was completed in July 2009, and will be open to the public in 2011. The walkway is located at the Wayqecha Cloud Forest Biological Station on the border of the Manu National Park deep in the Amazon Rainforest in Peru, four hours from Cusco.

The project consists of four towers ranging in height from 20 meters (65 feet) to 44 meters (144 feet) above ground level and an observation platform. In total the walkway is 146 meters (479 feet) with suspension bridge lengths ranging from 21 meters (68 feet) to 44 meters (144 feet) between towers and a width of 0.35 meters (1 foot) along the length of the bridges.

This operation is a joint venture between Amazon Conservation Association and our sister organization in Peru, Asociación para la Conservación de la Cuenca Amazónica (ACCA), and its creation was supported by ACEER (The Amazon Center for Environmental Education and Research). Design and construction was led by Greenheart Conservation Company, Ltd. of Canada.

This operation has become the gateway for many Peruvian students, researchers and ecotourists to get a glimpse of the eastern Andean cloud forest ecosystem and take part in an educational experience as well.

Potential Conservation Corridors

Features of the Manu Cloud Forest Canopy Walkway:

  • First high-elevation cloud forest canopy walkway in the world
  • Provides access for the scientific community to study the Andean cloud forest ecosystem
  • Offer an experiential environmental education opportunity to local students and ecotourists through a classroom tower in the center of the observatory large enough for a classrooms or laboratory to be setup
  • Develop an economic alternative to deforestation for local populations which supports ecological integrity and employs local people as guides
  • Deliver revenue through nature-based tourism to support cloud forest conservation
  • Built from aluminum to put less stress on the existing tree structure while providing a long term structure for the hanging bridges that form the canopy walkway

If you would like to support this project specifically or want to know more about how to visit the Manu Cloud Forest Canopy Walkway please contact Visit our online photo gallery to see more photos or read our recent newsletter article about the project.


View of the canopy walkway

John Kelson and the canopy construction crew. Photo: Julia Weintritt

Photo of Incan peanut shelling machine

Enjoying the view of the surrounding cloud forest and puna landscapes near Manu National Park. Photo: Ronald Catpo

Photographer on walkway

The view along the walkway. Photo: Cesar Moran

Photo of dyed yarn garment

View of the canopy walkway and a supporting tower. Photo: Ronald Catpo

red tapestry