Writes: Dani Rivera
Precisely a year ago, on the occasion of the International Day of Biological Diversity, we dedicated the CEDIA Opina to the importance of biological diversity in the adaptation of our country to climate change. It was mentioned that one of the most important mechanisms found by the Peruvian State for the conservation of diversity is the establishment and sustainable management of Protected Natural Areas (ANP). On this occasion, we will delve into the contribution of the ANPs to the conservation of biological diversity in Peru, we will highlight the cultural value they have and their contribution to sustainable development.
According to article 1 of the Law of Protected Natural Areas (Law No. 29834), these are created mainly to “conserve biological diversity and other associated values of cultural, landscape and scientific interest, as well as for their contribution to the sustainable development of the country. ”(MINAM 2009). It is a very important mission and one that is closely linked to the sustainability of the country's development, but not only from an environmental point of view, but also from a cultural and economic aspect. On this important mission, some important aspects can be highlighted.
In the first place, the conservation of biological diversity in itself has immense relevance in our country, given that Peru's own geography and its location in the most important Hotspot diversity in the world, have allowed us to have an impressive variety of ecosystems, species and subspecies that place Peru among the 15 most diverse countries in the world (MINAM 2016). However, maintaining this quality is also an immense task in a country that has 11 ecoregions, 28 of the 32 types of climate and 84 of the 117 life zones in the world (MINAM 2016). At present, the National System of Natural Areas Protected by the State (SINANPE) covers around 18% of national territory, with ANP located on the coast, mountains, jungle and sea of Peru; and includes different categories that include those whose main objective is the preservation of species and ecosystems, up to those that promote the sustainable use of natural resources.
However, after recognizing the importance of biological diversity and the need for its protection itself, it is necessary to deepen its associated values; that is, the ways and reasons why human beings value biodiversity. Two of these values associated with biological diversity (Law No. 29834) are of greater relevance to the work of the Center for the Development of the Amazonian Indigenous (CEDIA): the cultural value and the contribution to the sustainable development of the country.
Throughout its 36 years, CEDIA has actively participated in the process of establishing nine ANPs in the Peruvian Amazon. In all these cases, the cultural background of these proposals has been crucial. An example of this close relationship between cultural value and the conservation of biological diversity in protected natural areas is the Megantoni National Sanctuary in Cusco. An initiative of the Machiguenga Council of the Urubamba River-COMARU, supported by CEDIA, which was born from the need of this town to protect one of the most important places for Machiguenga mythology, the Tonkini. This impressive waterfall in the Pongo de Mainique is, according to the beliefs of the Machiguenga people, a portal that links the world of the living with that of the dead (of the spirits), and according to these beliefs, it is necessary for the Machiguenga to maintain their immortality, or the permanent and periodic passage between the world of the living and the dead. A rapid biological inventory carried out in 2004 revealed that this great cultural value relevant to the Machiguenga was complemented by an impressive diversity of orchids, unique geological formations, and several endemic species new to reptile, amphibian and fish science.
Similarly, the three ANP that are part of the Villcabamba complex and the Matsés National Reserve, were born from the need of local indigenous peoples to protect spaces that were part of their ancestral territories, where they are rooted, not only their myths and sacred places, but also its cemeteries and ancient settlements that are part of its own history. But once again, these cultural values are combined with an impressive biodiversity. Thus, for example, the Matsés National Reserve is perhaps the most biodiverse place in the country.
This brings us to the second value associated with biological diversity that we are going to influence: the contribution to the sustainable development of the country. This is a very important discussion, since unfortunately there is the wrong perception that the establishment of ANP constitutes a barrier to development. On the contrary, there are many examples of how the establishment of ANP boosts the local economy. And it is necessary to emphasize the term "local" because, although the investment of external capital is not excluded, the residents and traditional users of the ANP are the first called to enjoy their benefits. Unfortunately, for many years, the National Service of Natural Protected Areas by the State (SERNANP) and its cooperating institutions have failed to measure and show more clearly this contribution to national development.
This has changed recently and great efforts are being made to measure the contribution of ANPs to local economies and national development. In recent years, SERNANP has developed a series of mechanisms that promote and regulate the sustainable use of natural resources in the ANPs and their buffer zones, such as minor activity agreements, management plans and conservation agreements. All of them oriented to the participation of local populations and that allow to show the results of the management, not only from the perspective of the control and surveillance of the areas, but from their contribution to the sustainable development of their environment and from there to the development of the country. . This is a very important advance towards the efficiency of public spending, in a country that aims at allocating the budget by results. Thanks to these advances, SERNANP has become the governing body of the Budget Program (PP: 057), which seeks "Improvement in the conservation of biological diversity and sustainable use of natural resources in ANP."
Currently, CEDIA is developing a project in the ANP complex in Güeppí. Integrated by the Güeppí National Park and the Huimeki and Airo Pai Communal Reserves. These ANPs, declared as such in 2012, after a long categorization process, were initially proposed as a Reserved Zone due to their high Biodiversity value, but in the categorization process, their important cultural value for the Secoya peoples was also identified. and Kichwa and its great potential for the management of ichthyological resources, especially Paiche and Arahuana.
Being located in the extreme north of the country, on the border of Peru, Ecuador and Colombia, the role of these ANPs as promoters of sustainable development is very important, since on many occasions they are the only permanent representation of the State for the most remote communities. . In a few years, this has made other nearby communities, but which were not direct beneficiaries of these ANPs, feel attracted by this model of sustainable development and ask the State, through SERNANP, to expand the Airo Pai Communal Reserve. on the right bank of the Napo River. CEDIA has assumed the commitment with these communities, their indigenous organizations and SERNANP itself, to carry out the necessary investigations and steps to meet this request. The expansion of this Communal Reserve will also have a very relevant benefit for the conservation of Biodiversity, as it will allow connecting, through this expansion, the Yasuní National Park in Ecuador (one of the most biodiverse in the world) with the tri-biological corridor. national formed by Peru, Ecuador and Colombia.