Royal Cinclodes
Photo: Royal Cinclodes by Kazuya Naoki


The Challenge

Rapid disappearance of Polylepis forests in the high Andes of Peru and Bolivia endangers many forest birds that inhabit these woodlands. Andean peoples living near Polylepis woodlands depend on these dwindling forests for fuel wood, medicine, and ritual purposes. These forests are threatened by cutting trees for firewood, clearing for pastures, and overgrazing cattle which prevent natural regeneration. These native forests act like sponges, holding water for longer periods than pastures. Their disappearance has negative consequences on the watersheds, ecosystems, and people living downstream. The goal of this project is to work with local communities protect and restore Polylepis forests.


ABC Conservation Framework

Efforts to save this species comes under Safeguarding the Rarest within ABC's Conservation Framework
pyramid icon - rarest
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Primary Birds Impacted

Three globally threatened birds:  the Ash-breasted Tit-tyrant, Royal Cinclodes, and the White-browed Tit-spinetail and many other endemic birds.

YouTube - Royal Cinclodes by ABC



Reduce the demand for Polylepis as a fuel wood by supplying fuel-efficient stoves to local residents and make sustainable sources of wood such as eucalyptus available as an alternative to cutting Polylepis.  Restore, fence, and protect Polylepis habitat.  Work with local communities to establish private conservation areas on community land.

ABC Results

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In Peru’s Vilcanota Mountains, ABC and ECOAN established seven Private Conservation Areas on community-owned lands. The reserves span more than 15,600 acres and are recognized by the Peruvian National Government as part of the country's official system of protected areas.  They protect vital wetlands, Polylepis forests, and watersheds for downstream communities.

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Between 2002 and early 2012, ABC and ECOAN planted over 650,000 Polylepis seedlings on more than 870 acres to restore and expand Polylepis woodlands. Participating communities helped establish tree nurseries.

ABC Results Button ABC and ECOAN have helped reduce Polylepis woodland degradation in the vicinity of protected areas in the Vilcanota Mountains by providing communities with hundreds of fuel-efficient stoves and many tons of alternative fuel-wood.  ABC and ECOAN helped erect miles of fencing to exclude grazing cattle and encourage natural regeneration in Polylepis woodlands. 
ABC Results Button 48,000 alders and other native trees have been planted alongside 142,000 eucalyptus and pines for fuelwood plantations, providing communities with alternatives to Polylepis.
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ABC funded construction of visitor centers, guard houses, and other infrastructure at multiple Vilcanota reserves to aid communities in managing their reserves and hosting tourists, who provide income through entrance fees and the purchase of locally produced textiles.

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ABC and partners established a $2 million endowment fund in 2011 to sustain and improve management of the Vilcanota reserves and project activities. This fund will begin supporting project activities in 2012.

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In exchange for land protection, tree planting, and other conservation efforts by participating communities in the Vilcanota Mountains, ABC and ECOAN have provided benefits to these communities including technical assistance to improve grazing practices and textile marketing, health campaigns, training in tourism and management of protected areas, vegetable greenhouses to improve nutrition, and solar panels to provide electricity and heat water.


What Next?

What Next Button Establish additional private conservation areas.
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Bird population monitoring.

What Next Button Develop and market ecotourism packages for the private conservation areas.
What Next Button

Continue Polylepis reforestation.