Amazon Conservation Association

Amazon Conservation Association

Amazon Conservation Association (ACA) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization working to conserve the biodiversity of the Amazon Basin through the development of new scientific understanding, sustainable resource management and rational land-use policy.

Founded in 1999 by tropical ecologists Adrian Forsyth and Enrique Ortiz, the organization works in close partnership with the Peruvian nonprofit organization Asociación para la Conservación de la Cuenca Amazónica (ACCA), headquartered in Cuzco, and ACA-Bolivia, headquartered in La Paz. ACA and its sister organizations work by conducting scientific research and establishing partnerships with governments, local communities and other conservation organizations to expand the amount of land protected in the region.

A principal objective of the organization is to develop field research sites ranging from high elevation cloud forest to the lowland Amazon. It is this altitudinal gradient that harbors the greatest known richness of species on the planet. At the ACA field sites university students and researchers are brought to study and observe this diverse ecosystem.

Programs

The Brazil Nut Project

ACA works with castañeros (Brazil nut harvesters or producers) in the southwestern Amazon to both ensure that local and indigneous populations have a sustainable source of income and provide an incentive to conserve native forests. Land areas that contain castañales, or Brazil nut forests, range from several hundred to several thousand acres in size and are given in concession (territory) to local families for the nut collecting, also known as extraction. This extractive activity represents more than half the yearly income for thousands of families in these areas, and so far has politically justified the protection of the Brazil nut concession areas for extractive purposes. ACA's program offers technical support to castañeros, helping them map their trees, redesign extractive trails, and earn more by teaching more efficient gathering techniques.

Through its partner in Peru, La Asociación para la Conservación de la Cuenca Amazoncia (ACCA), ACA has helped to increase the number of Brazil nut producers in the department of Madre de Dios, Peru who have contracts and formal management plans to extract this sustainable resource. In 2006, ACCA assisted 93 small-scale producers gain government approval for Brazil nut extraction in convert|80598|acre|km2|0 of forest. The organization worked with these producers to map their stands, develop forest management plans, and win 40-year concession contracts with the Peruvian National Institute for Natural Resources (INRENA). Producers were also trained in sustainable forest management through workshops, meetings, and technical assistance.

Los Amigos Conservation Concession

In 2000, ACA and its local partner ACCA established the world's first private conservation concession, called Los Amigos ("Friends," in Spanish). [http://inrena.gob.pe/iffs/conc_conserv/concesiones_conservacion.htm] The Los Amigos Conservation Concession lies at the mouth of the Los Amigos River and covers approximately convert|360000|acre|km2 of old growth of Amazonian forest in the department of Madre de Dios in southeastern Peru. [http://cnx.org/content/m11554/latest/] Here, the organization focuses on sustainable forest management, research acivities, conservation education in local schools, and natural resource management training for communities. The Los Amigos Biological Station, commonly known by its Spanish acronym, CICRA (Centro de Investigación y Capacitación Río Los Amigos) sits on a high terrace at the confluence of the Madre de Dios and Los Amigos rivers, contiguous to the Los Amigos Conservation Concession.

In 2005-2007, CICRA was the most active research station in the Amazon Basin, hosting an average of 25 researchers and assistants per day. During the same period, it hosted 145 different research projects addressing animal behavior, biogeochemistry, botany, conservation biology, geology, hydrology, zoology, as well as biological inventories of 25 different taxa, ranging from copepods to marsupials. Most research visitors are associated with universities in Peru or abroad, and many receive funding to visit the station through ACA's and ACCA's grant programs. CICRA is also a leading training site for young Amazonian scientists and conservationists. Between 2002 and 2007, the station hosted 19 field courses, ranging from introductory courses on Amazonia to specialized courses on plant identification, ornithology, and arthropod biology.

Wayqecha Cloud Forest

The Wayqecha (meaning "friend" in Quechua) Research Center covers convert|1450|acre|km2|0 of cloud forest habitat, and serves as an ecological buffer for Peru's Manu National Park. At 3,000 meters above sea level, the Wayqecha Biological Station sponsors research on cloud forest ecology and climate change and species adaptation. ACA offers a competitive grant program for Peruvian students and international researchers that are interested in cloud forest science and conservation. [http://www.amazonconservation.org/home/grants.htm]

Pampas del Heath

ACA-Bolivia works to understand the ecology of the Madidi National Park and the last portion of the pampas ecosystem, home of the Maned Wolf.

References

*Boyd, Stephanie. [http://www.peopleandplanet.net/doc.php?id=1807 "The nut that could help save the Amazon"] , "People and Forests", November 19 2002. Accessed October 24 2007.
*Janovec, John. [http://cnx.org/content/m11554/latest/ "The Los Amigos Conservation Area"] , "Connexions", August 14 2003. Accessed October 26 2007.
*Salaverri, Jorge. [http://www.marrder.com/htw/special/environment/5.htm "The kings of the national park system: Cloud Forests"] , "Honduras This Week", October 23 2007. Accessed October 23 2007.
* [http://www.amazonconservation.org/home/grants.htm "Field Research Grants"] , "Amazon Conservation Association", October 26 2007. Accessed October 26 2007.
* [http://www.amazonconservation.org/home/programs.html "Brazil Nut Program"] , "Amazon Conservation Association", October 26 2007. Accessed October 26 2007.
* [http://inrena.gob.pe/iffs/conc_conserv/concesiones_conservacion.htm "CONCESIONES PARA CONSERVACIÓN"] , "INRENA", January 18 2005. Accessed October 26 2007.

External links

* [http://www.amazonconservation.org/ ACA Official Website]
* [http://www.bertholletia.org/bertholletia/ Brazil Nut Homepage]
* [http://cnx.org/content/m11585/latest/ An Introduction to the Botany of the Los Amigos Conservation Area]


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