The Andean Corridor: Connecting protected areas down the spine of the Andes
The Andean Corridor project in Ecuador and Peru will span over 236 miles protecting the vital ecosystems of the Andes Mountains, including rich cloud forests and paramo grasslands that are home to endangered species such as the spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus) and mountain tapir (Tapirus pinchaque). The project is located in the Tropical Andes, one of the most biologically diverse places on our planet. This global hotspot safeguards about one-sixth of all plant life in the world and contains the largest variety of amphibian, bird, and mammal species. The Andes’ eastern slope is considered the world’s number one biodiversity hotspot due to its species richness and diversity. Its ecosystems regulate the natural cycles that produce and renew the planet’s air, water, and climate.
So far, Nature and Culture has successfully worked with local governments and communities in the Andean Corridor to establish one million acres of reserves. Based on our past effectiveness, national and local governments and communities have asked to partner with Nature and Culture in hopes of expanding land and watershed protection throughout the corridor. With financial support, this project could protect 1.2 million additional acres of key ecosystems and diverse habitats by the end of 2022.
Monitoring species like the spectacled bear and jaguar for effective conservation
Monitoring is essential for effective conservation and management of threatened species. In the northern Andes of Peru, Nature and Culture has joined forced with local communities to monitor the spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus), South America’s only bear species. As with many species, the spectacled bear population is declining primarily due to habitat loss. They are also illegally hunted for their meat and body parts and occasionally killed by farmers protecting their livestock and crops. These conservation threats have caused the spectacled bear’s International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) status to reach ‘vulnerable’, meaning the species is at high risk of extinction in the wild. With support from partners like you, our local team will train community members on the use of camera traps and scientific research, joining forces to protect and conserve the spectacled bear and other endangered species in the region.
In Bolivia, Nature and Culture is working with partner Nativa Bolivia and the Guarani Charagua Iyambae Indigenous Autonomous Government to monitor the jaguar (Panthera onca) and other large mammals near Ñembi Guasu Area of Conservation and Ecological Importance. Spanning 2.9 million acres, Ñembi Guasu is the first protected territory under an autonomous Guaraní indigenous government in Bolivia, which prioritizes spaces of environmental and cultural importance. By monitoring mammals, we can determine their conservation status and implement initiatives to better protect species and their habitat. Thanks to donors like you, technicians from Nativa Bolivia and Guaraní park guards have been able to record ten jaguars in the area with camera traps! We will continue to work in the area conducting research, monitoring species, and protecting habitat.
Protecting Wild Places
Aliwa: A sacred rainforest that emerged from an explosion 30 million years ago
More than 30 million years ago, the vast savannas of Vichada, Colombia, witnessed an unprecedented explosion. A meteorite hit the earth and left two craters, one 50 km in diameter and the second 30 km, holes that are among the largest in South America. Over the years, one crater was colonized by a dense Amazon rainforest and by the indigenous Sikuani people, for whom this place is sacred.
This rainforest, hidden from science until recently, could be home to at least 1,108 plant species and 1,569 animal species, including 163 reptile species, 684 bird species, and 183 mammal species. Wildlife in the area includes six endemic fish species (or species found nowhere else on Earth) and 33 species under one of the categories of endangered species, according to preliminary studies by Nature and Culture’s partner the Humboldt Institute of Colombia.
Since 2018, Nature and Culture has been working with partners WCS-Colombia, the Humboldt Institute, Global Wildlife Conservation, and the Indigenous Traditional Authorities of Colombia – Gobierno Mayor to conserve the Sikuani’s ancestral territory in the rainforest of Aliwa. Together we aim to strengthen the ancestral governance of the Sikuani people, train the indigenous guard in surveillance of the area to prevent illegal activities, and build strategies with the Sikuani for the protection of nature and culture in Aliwa.
Protecting the last marvelous spatuletail hummingbirds
The marvelous spatuletail hummingbird (Loddigesia mirabilis) is considered one of the most beautiful hummingbirds in the world – and also one of the most endangered. Its only habitat, found in the northern Andes of Peru, is being deforested and degraded, driving the species to extinction. According to the Red List of the IUCN, there are less than 1,000 individuals left on the planet.
Nature and Culture supports the management and protection of the forests and paramo grasslands of Utcubamba, one of the few habitats of the spatuletail hummingbird . In collaboration with local partners, we aim to protect an additional 115,645 acres by the end of 2023. Additionally, we will support the effective management of conservation areas for the sustainable development of communities.
Fighting Climate Change
Pastaza’s Rainforest: Ecuador’s largest carbon reserve
In collaboration with indigenous nationalities, local and provincial authorities, and donors like you, Nature and Culture aims to protect the biological and culturally diverse rainforests of Pastaza, Ecuador from increasing threats. Located in southern Ecuador, Pastaza comprises parts of Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest. The area holds world records for a wide array of plant and animal groups, from amphibians to trees to insects. A single hectare (2.47 acres) in the region may contain more tree species than are native to the continental United States and Canada combined. Pastaza’s rainforests are excellent buffers against the climate crisis. Forests in the project area capture more than 946 million tons of carbon, nearly double the amount of Canada’s carbon emissions in 2018.
Nature and Culture plans to conserve nearly five million acres of Pastaza’s ecosystems and ensure the sustainable management of its resources. Management efforts will integrate indigenous knowledge of land management with the development planning of Pastaza’s government.
Empowering Indigenous Communities
Roraima: Defending nature and culture in Brazil
Four years ago, the Macuxi, Wapixana and Taurepang nations of Roraima, Brazil, approached Nature and Culture hoping to protect their home – the savannahs of Raposa Serra de Sol. This unique area encompasses 1.6 million acres of Amazon forest and native savanna grasslands in northwest Brazil.
The habitats in Raposa Serra de Sol are increasingly threatened by grazing and fires. Additionally, indigenous communities face economic and social pressures from miners and soy producers, threatening their environment and well-being.
Nature and Culture is working with the Roraima Indigenous Council to prioritize the development and implementation of Community Conservation Agreements within the area. The agreements will protect the area’s incredible biodiversity and assist indigenous people in sustainably managing their land. We are also supporting low-impact and culturally-established economic activities such as sustainable cattle management to secure sustainable livelihoods for communities.
Thanks to partners like you, we have held several workshops, including training on sustainable agriculture practices and native fish farming techniques. Additionally, through remote meetings, we are strengthening the capacities of indigenous leader as project managers to ensure lasting conservation impact in the region.
COVID-19 Relief Fund
Supporting nature’s greatest guardians
The global coronavirus pandemic has impacted every corner of the globe. The countries where Nature and Culture works have not been spared. Brazil, Mexico, and Peru have been particularly hard hit, both in total case numbers and when adjusted for population.
Many of the indigenous and local communities whom we partner with have been severely impacted both directly and indirectly by the pandemic. These groups are likely more susceptible to this coronavirus and often are the farthest from government and healthcare services. In some places, like where we work in northern Brazil, the infection rate for indigenous people has been 130% higher than the general population.
Nature and Culture created a COVID-19 Relief Fund in 2020 to support our local conservation partners with their immediate needs including food, water, masks, and disinfectants. Our partner communities are deeply grateful for the assistance we provide thanks to the generosity of supporters like you!
As these communities experience greater economic pressures, we are grateful that they can consider Nature and Culture a trustworthy and reliable partner in the work to conserve our beautiful and fragile planet.
Ñembu Guasu — Conserving the Cháco dry forest with the Guaraní and creating a 13.5-million-acre corridor
Update: Fully funded and 1.4 million acres of Chaco dry forest protected
Southern Bolivia is home to a rich mix of ecosystems, from the lush, species-rich foothills of the Andes to the expansive plains of the Cháco dry forest. We’re working with the Guaraní indigenous people to establish Ñembu Guasu Reserve in the endangered Chaco dry forest. Ñembu Guasu is known for its incredible wildlife, such as armadillos, giant anteaters, jaguars, howler monkeys, peccaries, and tapirs. The reserve will protect cultural and biological diversity in an area rapidly losing its forest, including an uncontacted tribe related to the Guaraní people. It will also connect to two larger reserves in the area, creating a 13.5-million-acre conservation corridor.
Zamora Chinchipe — Fighting deforestation and saving the Shuar homelands
Update: Fully funded and 1.1 million-acre rainforest reserve declared
Zamora Chinchipe lies within the Huancabamba Depression of the Andes, a transition zone from the humid north to the drier central Andes. Due to the area’s geological diversity and environmental conditions, the reserve harbors an enormous variety of habitats, from high-elevation páramos to lush foothill forests. The province’s dramatic altitude changes encourage the evolution of diverse species and provide a critical escape valve for climate change — an upward migration path to cooler temperatures that will help species survive as the Earth warms. Protecting the area will safeguard water supplies from threats such as mining — Zamora Chinchipe Province currently has the highest density of mining concessions in Ecuador. The reserve will also preserve the home and ancestral culture of a significant indigenous population, principally members of the Shuar Nationality.