Consolidating the Conservation Corridor of the Polylepis Forests in the South of the Conchucos.

Consolidating the Conservation Corridor of the Polylepis Forests in the South of the Conchucos.

The department of Ancash is located northeast of the department of Lima, with an area of approximately 35,039.19 km2 and incredibly diverse geography, the main attraction being the highest tropical mountain range in the world – the Cordillera Blanca. This mountain range is also one of the most significant sources of water in Peru and is privileged by its diversity and vast native forests of the high Andes. This biological corridor extends between Huascarán National Park and Huayhuash National Reserve, both natural areas protected by the Peruvian state and home to many native communities whose survival depends upon environmental services, which in turn depend on the preservation of the ecosystem balance as a whole.

  • Status: COMPLETED
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  • American Bird Conservancy
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WHY PROTECT POLYLEPIS FORESTS? The forests of Polylepis are unique ecosystems since they are the highest forests in the world, with many endemic fauna and flora. In addition, the Polylepis forests play a vital role in regulating the hydrological cycle (functioning as freshwater sponges), controlling soil erosion, and reducing CO2 emissions in the air. They are a valued eco-tourist attraction for people who come from across the globe to observe endemic species.

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In the Polylepis forests we have observed 385 species of flora in 59 families. The most important families by number of species are: the Asteraceae with 116 species, followed by the Poaceae with 31 species, and Gentianaceae and Solanaceae, each with 14 species (ECOAN 2005). These species have been registered in four categories of threats: five species are critically endangered, one is endangered, three are near threatened, and seven are listed as vulnerable (INRENA, IUCN Red Book). At the fauna level, the following species have been recorded: Endangered Species (EN): 1. Anairetes alpinus (Ash-breasted Tit-tyrant) 2. Poospiza alticola (Plain-tailed warbling finch); Vulnerable Species (VU): 1. Hippocamelus antisensis (Taruca) 2. Odocoileus virginianus (White-tailed deer) 3. Nothoprocta pentlandi (Andean tinamou) 4. Zaratornis stresemanni (White-cheeked Cotinga); Near Threatened Species 1. Felis concolor incarum (Puma) 2. Orelianus jacovita (Mirshi mirshi) 3. Oreomanes fraseri (Giant conebill) 4. Leptasthenura yanacensis (Tawny Tit-spinetail) 5. Atlapetes rufigenis (Rufous-eared Brush finch) 6. Vultur gryphus (Andean Condor).

WHAT ARE CONSERVATION AGREEMENTS? Conservation agreements are contracts that represent an opportunity for users of resources (local communities) to define the most appropriate conservation actions to maintain the balance between the ecosystem and human activity. Benefit analysis is valued on the basis of the opportunity cost of protecting these ecosystems. The opportunity cost is the valuation of the resources that will be left to extract (logging, grazing, etc.), thus closing the circle that connects the conservation of natural resources with the sustainable development of communities. Such agreements have a duration of one year and the benefits are negotiable based on the needs and the realities of the communities involved. Two conservation agreements were signed in 2010, in the communities of Llámac and Pacllón located in the Department of Anchas, Province of Bolognesi. In the community of Llámac, a communal nursery for the production of Polylepis weberbaueri seedlings was implemented and is cared for by community members. Additionally, two production campaigns were achieved in the years 2010-2011, a successful initiative in the production of this particular species, which is the most abundant in the Polylepis forests of this region (J. Fjeldsa).

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