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By Lucy Arndt, Sales & Business Development Manager, Ecosphere+

This week is the 16th anniversary of CIMA, our project partner on the ground at the Cordillera Azul National Park in Peru. We are marking this milestone by celebrating the innovative and inspiring work for which CIMA has recently been recognised in protecting the park.

The Cordillera Azul National Park, Peru

The Cordillera Azul National Park encompasses 1.35 million hectares with a buffer zone extending a further 2.3 million hectares, creating an area of 3.7 million ha in a unique geological area where the Andes mountain range meets the Amazon rainforest. The Park was founded for two main reasons: to conserve the species, the ecosystems and the geological formations unique to the Park, and to promote sustainable development of neighbouring communities. Sadly, it is threatened by land-trafficking, logging, migratory and industrial agriculture and illegal crops.

Cordillera Azul conservation achievements recognised by pilot in IUCN programme

We are proud that at COP23, in November 2017, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) announced our Cordillera Azul National Park project as a pilot for their newly launched ‘Incubator for Nature Conservation’. The aim of the incubator is to establish and learn ways to improve conservation financing on protected and conserved areas.

Cordillera Azul National Park’s vast, biodiverse area with excellent conservation status has been selected as one of only 10 sites in this programme as a prime example of conservation finance at work that CIMA has been doing for years.

IUCN Incubator for Nature Conservation

The incubator aims to answer the question ‘can a protected area also be a good business?’.

The value of protected areas is well-recognised; they provide sources of livelihoods, ecosystem services, habitat for biodiversity and are critical carbon sinks. Unfortunately, however, protected areas all too often struggle to cover basic costs of management and conservation. These costs are forever rising in the face of increasing global pressures and climate change related stresses. The purpose of the incubator is to find and champion new ways to protect these vitally important areas from the many innovative methods used globally for generating and channelling money for conservation.

The IUCN identified that for successful financing of conservation, protected area managers, government agencies, public funding bodies and private investors must come into alignment. A perfect example of this was seen at the COP23 event; all of these actors for the Cordillera Azul National Park came together to participate in a panel discussion. On one side was Patricia Fernandez-Davila, Executive Director of CIMA, which manages the Cordillera Azul National Park. She was joined by Rosa Morales Saravia, of the Peru Ministry of the Environment, who announced the nesting of Cordillera Azul in the national REDD+ framework. Juan Chang of the Green Climate fund addressed the role of public finance mechanisms in assuming risk and leading on investment also attended.

IUCN site visit

In April, 2018, Gustavo Gamio, our Latin American lead, welcomed Lydia Slobodian, IUCN Legal Officer and Project Manager of the INC programme on a site visit to Cordillera Azul. Lily Rodriguez, founder and president of CIMA also joined. The purpose of their visit was to show Lydia how this project is innovating and working with the local communities to promote sustainable development on the ground.

Gustavo descrived the visit, “We spent a couple of days visiting communities located in the buffer zone. Here the land is degraded due to deforestation and the people that live there and depend on the forest are working on the solution. Lydia witnessed how complex the landscape is and was impressed by the great effort that native communities, rangers, conservation professionals and local authorities are doing to recover degraded lands through a mix of restoration and business projects.

It was a great experience to exchange ideas with such an important person from the IUCN and to show her that we need support to add value and achieve the sustainability of Cordillera Azul.”

What is an incubator?

An incubator is a mechanism to help nurture and grow new businesses or ideas through providing training, advice and technical support. As part of the ‘Incubator for Nature Conservation’, the IUCN will provide these services to help set up sustainable financing systems in protected and conserved areas.

In their initial invitation they asked managers, community representatives or organisers, private businesses, NGOs, government representatives and other experts to nominate sites for the pilot phase of this programme.

Site proposals sent to the IUCN came with ideas for how to unlock sustainable financing in the proposed sites, and identifying long term financing sources, such as tourism, sustainable products or ecosystem services. IUCN will then work with the partners to bring these ideas to fruition.

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