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Published: March 9, 2011

Conservation Impact in Peru

Corine Vriesendorp, MacArthur Senior Conservation Ecologist and Director of the Andes-Amazon Program, Keller Science Action Center

A Rapid Inventory Leads to the Creation of the Ampiyacu-Apayacu Regional Conservation Area

In 2003 scientists in the Science Action Center conducted an inventory of the headwaters of the Ampiyacu and Apayacu rivers, tributaries of the Amazon. Their mammal surveys recorded the highest known density of lowland tapirs. Their fish surveys estimated that 40% of Peru’s freshwater species live in the area. The bird team estimated 500 species for the region. And more species of trees were recorded in a football-field-sized patch of forest here than are native to all of North America.

The proposal for a conservation area originated with the indigenous communities living along its borders—about 3,000 people in nine different ethnic groups. With the Field Museum's biological and social data as a foundation, in 2010 Peru’s national government declared Ampiyacu-Apayacu a regional conservation area, protecting 1.07 million acres of terrifically diverse Amazonian forest for the benefit of its indigenous neighbors. This is one of 12 new protected areas created in the last ten years in South America after Field Museum rapid inventories


Corine Vriesendorp

Corine directs the Andes-Amazon program in the Keller Science Action Center. She is a field biologist with deep experience with the flora and vegetation of the remotest corners of the Western Amazon. She works closely with South American partners to bring science to bear on conservation and the quality of life of local people.