AMAZON RAINFOREST: Madre de Dios, Peru

Peru’s southeastern Amazonian department of Madre de Dios represents one of the last wild places left in the Amazon Basin. The region’s deepest forests are home to uncontacted indigenous groups living in voluntary isolation. The rich wildlife of the forests includes a range of threatened and endangered species, including mahogany trees, short-eared dogs, and giant anteaters. The Madre de Dios region is Peru’s official “capital of biodiversity,” but without active conservation efforts, this precious ecosystem is quickly being degraded by a combination of gold mining, logging, and agricultural expansion.

WildFF supported ARCAmazon in the purchase of an ecotourism concession strategically positioned as a protective buffer on the Las Piedras River.

Expanding Conservation Capacity In Las Piedras

Land acquisition

Since 2013, WidFF has been working with their Peruvian nonprofit partner, ARCAmazon, to establish a conservation and sustainable development corridor on the Las Piedras River, the last wild and unprotected river left in Madre de Dios. The area of protected rainforest under WildFF is almost 16,000 acres, which acts as a geographic buffer zone to the homeland of uncontacted people and Peru’s largest protected area, Alto Púrus National Park.

In addition, ARCAmazon has developed a world-class education center at LPAC and related educational programming, Amazon Academy, to engage local and foreign students through field-based rainforest education programs. The goal of Amazon Academy is to document ongoing fieldwork and develop a video series on the importance of protecting the Amazon.

LPAC main lodge sits in pristine intact forest. Photo credit: Pavel Martiarena.

Ecotourism

The flagship initiative of WildFF in the Las Piedras watershed is to support the purchase and management of an 11,000-acre ecotourism concession, the Las Piedras Amazon Center (LPAC). Since its establishment in 2015, LPAC has been a critical wildlife refuge and global center for environmental education and research. All profits are invested back into conservation initiatives, such as forest ranger programs, research and community development.

In addition, ARCAmazon is quickly developing a world-class education center, the Amazon Academy, to engage local and foreign students through field-based rainforest education programs. The goal is to document ongoing fieldwork and develop a video series on the importance of protecting the Amazon.

Future Leaders and McDaniel College students partake in place-based learning in the “biodiversity capital of the world.” Photo credit: Jason Scullion.

Capacity building and education

The ideals of young people can inspire great opportunities for conservation. Yet, local youth networks may be limited in developing areas, which can hinder success. Back in 2014, WildFF piloted a 5-year youth leadership program with the goal of building the entrepreneurial capacity of local leaders. By the end of the pilot, over 50 Peruvian leaders had attended workshops in the Amazon rainforest. These “Innovadores” continue to build their network on the ground, and many of them have either started their own sustainable business or work in the sustainability sector.

WildFF has also supported an environmental education initiative for school-aged children—piloted by two of our own Future Leaders! School-aged children from native communities along the Las Piedras River were invited to partake in classroom and field activities to learn about their ecosystems, biodiversity, stream ecology, and camera trapping. WildFF strongly believes that education ensures the long-term success of protecting intact forests for current and future generations.

Elementary students learn hands-on about the mysteries and richness of their rainforest environment. Photo credit: Jessica Suarez.