ProBosque Manu

Four giant otters laying on a tree trunk above the water

Picture: Norbert Guthier

The International Climate Initiative (ICI) of the German Environment Ministry (BMU) is financing an extensive project that will help to preserve biodiversity in the Peruvian rainforest.

The project 'Forest conservation and management of natural resources in the Manú Biosphere Reserve', for which BMU is providing two million euros through the ICI, was launched in Lima, Peru, on 21 May. An official presentation of the project formed part of a ceremony attended by many high-ranking guests, highlighting the exemplary commitment of Peru and Germany to conserving biological diversity in the Manú Biosphere Reserve - 'one of Peru's greatest treasures'. The project, which is receiving funding for five years, is being implemented by the Frankfurt Zoological Society (ZGF) in cooperation with the Peruvian state agency responsible for protected areas, SERNANP (Servicio Nacional de Áreas naturales Protegidas por el Estado); a Memorandum of Understanding underpinning this expanded cooperation has been signed.

Unique species diversity

Manú National Park lies in the south-east of Peru, where the Andes fall from an altitude of more than 4,000 metres to the tropical Amazon plain at about 300 metres. The park was established to protect a region that is the meeting point of Earth's two most diverse biomes: the eastern Andes and the lowlands of the western Amazon basin. It is an area that is known worldwide as the Tropical Andes biodiversity hotspot, because nowhere else on Earth is there comparable species richness: more than 5,000 plant species as well as numerous species of mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles live in this unique wilderness. Experts estimate that the Manú National Park is home to a total of more than 500,000 species. Indigenous peoples live in the lowland rainforests, while the uplands are populated by farming communities. Although the population density of the entire region is not very high, non-sustainable economic activities have for some years been threatening the species diversity of the biosphere reserve.

Project objectives

The principal objectives of the ProBosque project are reduction of deforestation and more sustainable use of natural resources. In addition, the interests and wishes of the local population are to be respected and incorporated more into management decisions. Training in sustainable cultivation techniques will help the region's inhabitants use the available resources in more environmentally friendly ways. Under the slogan 'People and park', the project seeks to build a closer relationship between the indigenous communities in the lowlands and the national park authority, so that the two sides can draw up joints strategies for use, such as an environmentally sound tourism strategy. For people living in the highlands of the Andes, the conservation of endangered animal species is also an important issue. For example, environmental education measures are designed to improve people's understanding of the Andean bear - an animal under threat of extinction - and contribute to long-term conservation of the area's biological diversity.