The Althelia Climate Fund (ACF) has invested US$7 million in the region of Madre de Dios, Peru, to finance the long-term conservation of 591,119 hectares of threatened natural forest. The investment was made alongside the Peru-U.S. debt swap fund ‘Fondo de las Americas’ (FONDAM), who contributed US$2million to the project and offered its expertise in cacao-based agroforestry projects. The project covers the National Reserve of Tambopata and the National Park of Bahuaja-Sonene, both biodiversity hotspots, as well as 4,000 hectares of degraded land in a buffer zone around the parks. This investment enables the restoration of the buffer zone through improved agroforestry systems that aim to produce fine aromatic ‘deforestation-free’ cacao and improve the livelihoods of the farming communities.
Tambopata National Reserve and Bahuaja-Sonene National Park are among the most biologically diverse ecosystems in the world, providing essential ecosystem services, such as regulation of the water cycle, and carbon sequestration. These areas are currently under threat of conversion and degradation from unsustainable land-use practices such as slash-and-burn agriculture, inefficient pastoral systems, and illegal mining. ACF’s investment will help ensure a transition towards sustainable land use in both protected areas’ zones of influence, and thus furthering the long-term conservation of these two important areas.
Our investment provides necessary financial resources to improve the agricultural practices of over 400 small farmers and their families living in the buffer zone around the protected areas, as well as financing biological monitoring, scientific research and surveillance within the protected areas themselves. The agroforestry improvements include the development of 4,000 hectares of fine aromatic cocoa trees alongside the establishment of a smallholder cooperative that enables optimal management of harvesting, processing, and commercialisation of the cacao. At full scale, the investment will produce at least 3,200 tonnes of certified deforestation-free organic and Fairtrade cacao every year. This will ensure the long-term financial and environmental sustainability of the area, its ecosystems, and its population. In addition, this project will result in avoiding the emission of over 4 million tonnes of carbon over the seven-year investment period validated under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and the Carbon, Community and Biodiversity (CCB) Standards at the Gold level.
This investment is possible thanks to the ground-breaking partnership between Asociacion para la Investigacion y el Desarrollo Integral (AIDER) and SERNANP, the Peruvian Ministry of Environment’s National Service for Natural Protected Areas, which is a key supporter of private participation in nature conservation and environmental services.
AIDER is a leading Peruvian NGO with over 27 years of expertise in implementing and managing community-based sustainable development projects and is the project’s partner on the ground.
Photo credits: Aldo Ramírez and Frans Lanting