Biodiversity conservation

Building capacity of Southern Amazonas coffee growers to conserve their tropical forests

The Amazonas region of northern Peru is home to some of the world’s most species-rich forests. It is also home to a population of people of whom 88% are living in poverty or extreme poverty.

The Monte Alegre Conservation Concession protects some of the most intact middle-elevation cloud forest in the Amazonas region. With Balsas Marañon Regional Conservation Area, they both feature important watersheds, including the Marañon River watershed and the Utcubamba watershed, which provide clean water to over 100,000 people. Within these protected areas, charismatic species such as the spectacled bear, hairy anteater, and the yellow-tailed woolly monkey – an endangered species that is endemic to Peru – are being safeguarded. The Regional Government of Amazonas has prioritized a plan to place 70% of its 4,047,000 ha region under conservation protection. In 2012, the Regional Government of Amazonas invited Nature and Culture International’s (NCI) Amazonas office to be their lead partner in establishing this comprehensive network of regional, community, and private reserves, and conservation concessions.

In 2013 Nature and Conservation International (NCI) initiated work with the communities along the proposed Balsas Marañon Regional Conservation Area (Balsas RCA) by organizing two community production associations and in 2015, NCI, with the Regional Government of Amazonas and the Flor de Café Cooperative, established the Monte Alegre Conservation Concession, legally protecting 21,126 ha of pristine Amazon rainforest. There, coffee has emerged as the leading industry to unite goals for conservation and economic prosperity. NCI has initiated work with the Flor de Café Cooperative to build the capacity of local growers in the production of organic shade-grown coffee to sell internationally.

NCI proposes to build the capacity of the Flor de Café Cooperative by improving their production of shade-grown coffee to reach international markets; increase their revenue by at least 40%; improve their supply chain of organic coffee; and generate long-term participation in the co-management of the Monte Alegre Conservation Concession in the Amazon of Peru. Additionally, NCI will expand this co-management model to the coffee-growing communities surrounding the proposed Balsas Marañon Regional Conservation Area.

In turn, the communities will agree to participate in the management committees of their respective adjacent protected conservation areas, sign conservation agreements, and increase production of coffee with other communities to generate income without impacting the protected areas.

NCI staff, including NCI’s Coffee Specialist, will initiate this project in year one by guiding the Flor de Café Cooperative through the process of obtaining certification for selling to international buyers. Coffee growers will be trained in the process of producing higher coffee yields through the diversification of coffee plant varieties, inclusion of native fine hardwoods and other income generating plant species (i.e. bamboo, guayusa, and stevia) on their farms. NCI’s has already identified one international buyer and will continue to identify additional international buyers for the project. NCI staff will also provide technical assistance to empower the communities to manage shade-grown coffee nursery production, as well as soil management and best practices for fermentation and drying of the product.

Once the Flor de Café Cooperative begins to receive 40% or more for each pound of coffee they sell and are actively developing the management plan for the Monte Alegre Conservation Concession, NCI staff will expand the project to the community production associations surrounding the proposed Balsas RCA. Ultimately, the increase in shade-grown coffee sales will directly benefit the surrounding communities’ two protected areas by reducing their impact on the forest and enhancing their participation in the management of the areas.

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