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Cycle 7 (2018 Deadline)

Numba Wachokkeri: Empowering indigenous peoples to protect their forests with cutting-edge technology

PI Sidney Novoa, (,  Conservación de la Cuenca Amazónica (ACCA), and co-PI Carlos Saito Villanueva, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP)
U.S. Partner: Eben Broadbent, University of Florida
Dates: November 2018 - February 2022

Project Overview

7-355_Final webinar flyer

The Peruvian Amazon has a diverse landscape with rich biodiversity and cultural heritage. Within this region lies the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve (ACR) that protects over 690,000 hectares of tropical forest and the native indigenous communities inhabiting it. Additionally, this reserve also connects other important conservation areas, including Manu National Park, Madre de Dios Indigenous Territorial Reserve, Tambopata National Reserve, and Bahuaja-Sonene National Park. ACR has an unique management structure, in which the Peruvian National Park Service (SERNANP) co-manage the reserve with an elected indigenous-based organization known as the Executor of the Administrative Contract of the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve (ECA-Amarakaeri). Together, they have established a control and monitoring system to protect the forest. Unfortunately, in recent years the ACR has suffered severe forest loss produced by illegal activities, especially gold mining and logging. Moreover, the implementation of control and monitoring actions in these areas have high logistical costs due to the transportation of park rangers and indigenous community members. These activities also pose a serious risk to the safety of these people because of possible confrontation with offenders.

The use of remote sensing technology, including drones and satellite imagery, are tools that can increase the effectiveness of monitoring efforts and improve the response to threats in a timely manner, while safeguarding the integrity of patrolling members. Therefore, the overall goal of this project is to develop complementary actions for the control and monitoring system of the ACR by using cutting-edge technology. To meet this goal, the project team will: 1) improve and develop current drone technology to overcome barriers in challenging tropical environments; and 2) transfer this technology to achieve the sustainable implementation of effective monitoring and control actions. The research team will develop the present drone technology to overcome the environmental barriers. Then, they will transfer this knowledge to the indigenous communities so they can incorporate it to their control and monitoring actions and increase the effectiveness to reduce the impacts of extractive activities in the ACR. Finally, the project team anticipates the near-real-time knowledge of the advance of illegal activities, through this technology, will result in better decisions for effective co-management.

The project will focus on the southeast Peruvian Amazon, specifically in Madre de Dios region--the biodiversity capital of the country--which currently also has the second highest deforestation rates in Peru, mainly due to illegal and informal gold mining and the expansion of the agricultural frontier. This project is anticipated to address natural resources sustainably managed in the Amazon Basin and glacier highlands, because it is focused on monitoring extractive activities that threaten the natural resources of the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve (ACR) and its indigenous communities. The project will evaluate the strategies built between the Peruvian National Park Service (SERNANP) and the indigenous-based organization that co-manage the ACR, ECA-Amarakaeri, especially related to the control and monitoring efforts to protect the reserve. The project seeks to develop capacities related to the use of cutting-edge technology, in order to improve the ACR control and monitoring activities to protect the natural resources. These activities include the direct participation of official park rangers (SERNANP) and members of the ECA-Amarakaeri indigenous vigilance committee.

Project updates

During October-December 2021 reporting period, the project team began their project closeout activities which included production of the video highlighting the achievements of the PEER project, with the special focus on the VTOL drone training that was carried out during August 2021. Two drone flights were also carried out in the Los Amigos Concession area, and two training events were carried with the focus on training the team of park rangers from the Los Amigos Conservation Concession of ACCA, as well as community guards from the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve.

On January  27, 2022  ACCA will hold their final live-streamed project webinar event featuring the project's achievements. The event can be viewed on ACCA Facebook page.
 7-355 Preparing for patrol 7-355 road
Preparing for the special patrol to verify illegal mining sites, October 8, 2019  On the road to the launch point. Photo credit: ACCA
7-355 installing signs  7-355 Evidence of illegal mining
Installation of the Amarakaeri CR signs. Photo credit: ACCA  Evidence of illegal mining activities. Photo credit: ACCA
7-355 Illegal activity site detected by drone 7-355 preparing for flight
One of the highlights of activities during 2019 was the discovery of the presence of an illegal mining camp in the Quincemil sector. Illegal mining sites. Photo credit: ACCA  Four vertical take-off and landing aircrafts (VTOLs) have been acquired and are being adapted for the project. Photo credit: Lina Stankute-Alexander (NAS)
7-355 Walter Quertehuari  7-355 USAID and NAS site visit 
Walter Quertehuari, President of the ECA Amarakaeri. Photo credit: Beatriz Torres (USAID/Peru)   USAID and NAS site visit with the PEER team and stakeholders in Quincemil January 2020. Drone flight demonstration. Photo credit: Beatriz Torres (USAID/Peru)