• Amazon Conservation Association

    Los Amigos Conservation Concession:

    protecting the Peruvian Amazon

In Brief

Location:

Madre de Dios region of southeastern Peru

Goal:

To provide permanent protection of the Los Amigos Conservation Concession.

Threats:

The Los Amigos Conservation Concession protects a trackless wilderness of diverse old-growth Amazonian forest from the threats of illegal logging, road development and gold mining. When Los Amigos was created, hundreds of illegal loggers and two illegal trading posts were recently present in the area.

Size of Area Involved:

146,000 ha (1,460 km2)

Young puma.  photo: Amazon Conservation Association

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Actions & Results:

Today, illegal activities in Los Amigos have been virtually eliminated due in large part to the patrolling and educational efforts of park guards (Promotores de Conservación or simply "Promotores"). Promotores patrol and protect the area from illegal loggers and hunters; they also collect biological monitoring data, and provide education workshops for high school students in the region. To support this cornerstone of park management, ICFC created the LACC Trust Fund to endow salaries for four or more Promotores. ICFC raised $1-million for the trust fund's initial capitalization and aims to grow capital to $1.8 million. Park guards patrol and protect the area from illegal loggers and hunters — they also collect biological monitoring data. At $12.33 per hectare protected, this is a superb conservation investment.

Cost:

US$1 million initial capitalization of trust fund.

By supporting the Los Amigos Conservation Concession, ICFC is helping to protect not only an amazing large tract of intact Amazonian rainforest, but a key area to complete a mosaic of protected areas, the first of its kind, and a model for the new ones to come.

— Enrique Ortiz, co-founder of Amazon Conservation Association

Los Amigos River and monitoring station (ACA)

In More Depth...

Program Partners and Personnel

Our partners for this project are the organizations responsible for the Los Amigos conservation concession, the U.S.-based Amazon Conservation Association (ACA) and its Peruvian sister organization, Asociación para la Conservación de la Cuenca Amazónica (ACCA).

<ii>Promotores de Conservacion</i> at Los Amigos (photo: ACA)

Background

Los Amigos

In 2001, ACA and ACCA established Peru's first private conservation concession by agreement with the national government. It lies at the mouth of the Los Amigos River in southeastern Peru, protecting the watershed of the river and over 146,000 hectares of diverse old-growth Amazonian forest against illegal logging, road development and gold mining. Strategically located at the mouth of the river, the Los Amigos Conservation Concession (LACC) indirectly protects an additional million hectares of state lands including Manu National Park and the large Territorial Reserve for Indigenous People in Voluntary Isolation. In addition, LACC provides substantial benefit in relation to climate change mitigation by preventing deforestation and associated carbon emissions.

Limited accessibility has been advantageous to conservation, and the remote upper watershed remains a trackless wilderness almost devoid of human influence. There are over 4,300 recorded species, at least twelve globally Threatened species and abundant Amazonian fauna, including giant otters, harpy eagles, spider monkeys, and jaguars.

Conservation Concessions

Over forty percent of the Peruvian Amazon is owned by the state, as is typical in other parts of the Amazon Basin, making public land management a critical conservation need. A conservation concession is an innovative instrument that allows non-governmental bodies to manage public land for biodiversity conservation, recognizing that civil society in many cases has greater capacity for protected area management than the government itself.

A conservation concession is governed by the same strong contract laws applicable to other private sector contractual relations with the government, such as telecommunications, mining, and transport. This has certain advantages over national parks, which may be created or eliminated by executive decree.

All conservation concessions require a rigorous management plan that undergoes a performance review by the government every five years, including field inspections.

Since the development of the Los Amigos Conservation Concession, the model has now been replicated throughout Peru, and in a dozen other countries as far away as China.

Threats

Illegal goldmining and logging are chief threats. Illegal goldmining has become a destructive scourge in the area in which LACC is located.

Illegal gold-mining in areas near Los Amigos. photo: ACA
Actions and Results

The LACC trust fund is the main source of funding for LACC. It supports the activities of "Promotores" (concession guards), who patrol the land and monitor its biodiversity and local weather. Promotores also provide support to field courses and some field research.

Since 2002, a surveillance and patrol program has been in place. Patrols and surveillance are conducted by foot, motorcycle, boat, and camera traps. Signage is used to deter illegal incursions. When patrols began, ACCA estimated that several hundred illegal loggers operated in the Los Amigos watershed, and two illegal trading posts were active within the concession. By July 2003, overflights indicated that illegal logging activity had ceased entirely inside LACC, with half a dozen logging camps still operating in the upper Los Amigos. One year later, the last loggers had left the watershed. To date, there have only been sporadic logging incursions (which were promptly notified to government authorities), with no establishment of new logging operations. As a result, vertebrate populations in LACC have rebounded, with a significant increase in reptile and primate sightings. In addition, in June 2014 the Promotores found signs of uncontacted indigenous peoples within LACC, and since then ACCA have been proactive in taking necessary measures to ensure the safety of Promotores, ACCA staff and researchers as well as that of the uncontacted indigenous peoples.

More recently, the Promotores have received training in remote monitoring technologies as well as handling encounters with uncontacted indigenous peoples.

Evidence of uncontacted indigenous people upriver from LACC. photo: ACA

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