17.05.2017

The Amazon - Working together to protect forests and biodiversity

International Day of Biodiversity: in Peru, indigenous groups are working with state authorities to manage communal conservation areas, thereby preserving biodiversity.

The Amazon rainforest is unique. Covering an area larger than the entire European Union, it is home to 40,000 plant species. This massive area is also one of Earth’s most important suppliers of oxygen and carbon sinks. But it is in acute danger: trees are being cut illegally, more and more cropland is being planted, and climate change is threatening plants and animals.

A large part of the Amazonian primeval forest is in Peru, where deforestation causes nearly half of national greenhouse gas emissions.

Now, a new form of rainforest protection is showing success: communal protected areas. This approach is characterised by strong participation of the indigenous peoples, who manage the areas together with state authorities responsible for protected areas. This increases the acceptance and willingness of both parties to protect the areas. To advance this innovative co-management approach, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is supporting both sides in strengthening their management capacities. The German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) commissioned the project.

GIZ also advises the indigenous village communities on preparing sustainable cultivation plans. These plans are required to allow products such as rubber or the natural medicine, Copaiba, to be collected and then sold. Plans for about 65,000 hectares of forest have already been drawn up. In this way, more than 400 families have been able to increase their income by up to 200 US dollars.

Managing communal protected areas in Peru is just one of many activities to protect biodiversity. Between 2010 and 2015, with the help of GIZ and their partners over 163 million hectares of forest was placed under protection in Latin America and the Caribbean alone. That is an area about four and half times the size of Germany.