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An overview of the Botany of Los Amigos Project

Introduction to the Botany of the Los Amigos Conservation Area Project John JanovecThe Botanical Research Institute of Texas

Introduction

The Amazonian wilderness harbors the greatest number of species on this planet and is an irreplaceable resource for present and futuregenerations. Amazonia is crucial for maintaining global climate and genetic resources, and its forest and rivers provide vital sources offood, building materials, pharmaceuticals, and water needed by wildlife and humanity.

The Los Amigos watershed in the state of Madre de Dios, southeastern Peru, is representative of the pristine lowland moist forest oncefound throughout most of upper Amazonian South America. Threats to tropical forests occur in the form of fishing, hunting, gold mining,timber extraction, impending road construction, and slash and burn agriculture. The Los Amigos watershed, consisting of 1.6 millionhectares (3.95 million acres), still offers the increasingly scarce opportunity to study rain forest as it was before the disruptiveencroachment of modern human civilization. Because of its relatively pristine condition and the immediate need to justify it as aconservation zone and as a corridor between Manu National Park and the Tambopata-Candamo Reserved Zone, this area deserves intensive,long-term projects aimed at botanical training, ecotourism, biological inventory, and information synthesis.

On July 24, 2001, the government of Peru and the Amazon Conservation Association, represented by Enrique Ort?z, signed a contractualagreement creating the first long-term permanently renewable conservation concession. To our knowledge this is the first suchagreement to be implemented in the world. The conservation concession protects 340,000 acres of old growth Amazonian forest in the LosAmigos watershed which is located in southeastern Peru. This watershed protects the eastern flank of Manu National Park and is part of thelowland forest corridor that links it to Bahuaja-Sonene National Park. The Los Amigos conservation concession will serve as a mechanism forthe development of a regional center of excellence in natural forest management and biodiversity science. Some overall goals of the LosAmigos Conservation Area program are to:

  • Protect the Los Amigos watershed;
  • Develop a world-class research center and model private protected area;
  • Train a new generation of Latin American ecologists and resource managers;
  • Create sustainable economic and social benefits for the local populations;
  • Develop new watershed conservation models for Amazonian eco-development;
  • Develop new ecosystem management understanding and practices;
  • Monitor and compare the ecological health of pristine ecosystems versus those experiencing logging, mining and agriculturaldisruption;
  • Empower a cadre of Peruvians who will act as the long-term guardians, mentors, planners and conservation actors in theregion.

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Source:  OpenStax, Botany of the los amigos conservation area. OpenStax CNX. Jan 22, 2004 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10210/1.9
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