Conservation work in the Area de Conservacion Regional Comunal Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo, Peruvian Amazon

Conservation work in the Área de Conservación Regional Comunal Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo (ARCTT) to protect the reserve and to support the communities in the buffer zone of the reserve.

RCF has continued conservation work on the Área de Conservación Regional Comunal Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo (ARCTT) with extensionists from our sister group in Peru, the Asociación para la Conservación y Desarrollo Amazónico (ACDA), other contracted extensionists, a nurse, and local villagers. RCF provides material support to the local guard system that patrols and protects the area from outsiders who may come to poach resources. We also support the logistical and material needs of the locally elected management committee for the reserve (Comité de Gestión) that was mandated by the Peruvian government and attend all meetings as requested by authorities. Donated items include typewriters, record books and other materials so that all meetings, agreements and requests are recorded and documented. We also provide funds for transportation of village representatives to the city of Iquitos or district capital of Tamshiyacu as needed. The results of these conservation efforts continue to be apparent and noticeable in 2010 as wildlife, including primates and jaguars is now common in forests right outside Tahuayo River communities, and will even enter villages in broad daylight.

Beginning in 2009, we expanded our work into a large new watershed area; the Quebrada Tamshiyacu. The northernmost part of the reserve, this area is home to several communities on the periphery that have been in great need of assistance to manage their resources and now play a key role as conservation partners for the reserve. During the past year, with RCF help, communities in the Quebrada Tamshiyacu have been active in organizing their communities to protect this side of the reserve and sustainably manage their buffer zone resources and lands. Conservation leaders from the Rio Tahuayo have assisted us in these efforts. There, we have an agroforestry project with four villages based on the successful Tahuayo experience, as well as an agroforestry and environmental education project with the largest secondary school in the area. We know that like in Tahuayo, this conservation work will take time to see significant results, but this is an area that is of vital strategic importance for the reserve.

RCF continues to support exchanges between community residents, conservation leaders, and sustainable development experts across this vast region. Members of the last remaining Maijuna communities visited the Tahuayo River twice during 2010 to learn how the reserve was created and has been managed by communities. The RCF field station in the Tahuayo River helps facilitate this. While the station remains part of the Tahuayo community and residents of Tahuayo villages are still the main users of the station (for healthcare, education, meetings, etc.). RCF President Jim Penn, RCF Board members Chris Miller and Michael Gilmore, and RCF extension coordinator Gerardo Bertiz brought visitors and researchers to the area in 2010. Some of the institutions that have recently used the facility for conservation, education and community support include: El Comité de Gestión de la ACRCTT, Centro de Salud – Esperanza, Federación de Comunidades Nativas Maijuna (FECONAMAI), Programa de Conservación, Gestión y Uso Sostenible de la Diversidad Biológica en la Región Loreto (PROCREL), The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), University of Berkeley Haas Business School, George Mason University, and the San Diego Zoo.

Healthcare in the area continued to receive RCF support in 2010. RCF pays a nurse to help with vaccination campaigns, prenatal and general healthcare in the buffer zone of the reserve, with an emphasis on women’s health and reproductive care. We also provide material support to the health post in the Tahuayo village of Esperanza, including medicines and gasoline for their boat, which was financed by RCF.

We recently expanded our work with Tahuayo River women who make artwork and crafts from the fibers of chambira palms (Astrocaryum chambira). The conservation and sustainable use of this species has been a concern near the reserve because of the increased international demand for chambira palm products. Moreover, the income from chambira goes directly to women, who use the money for family necessities, and especially for the needs of their children. In 2010 RCF provided additional equipment and footwear the women need to sustainably harvest the fibrous fronds of these very spiny palms. We also donated additional tools and supplies that help the women to create their crafts. Most importantly, we expanded our work into four communities during 2010 that use chambira palms for fiber in the Tahuayo River. RCF helps these families obtain planting stock and enrich their gardens with these palms, so that they will cultivate enough chambira to be able to sustain their weaving and artwork economy without having to go into the reserve and harvest the fiber. All women in the buffer zone who weave chambira fibers for artwork commerce now work on chambira cultivation with RCF extensionists. At the same time, RCF extensionist Gladis Atías and RCF president Jim Penn conducted research on the extraction and sale of chambira fibers in order to determine the ecological and economic impacts of this enterprise. The study is needed to provide an accurate assessment of this resource use.

Artisans with Gladis Atías.

RCF continued to work in 2010 with communities in sustainable agroforestry systems so that they can plant species of ecological and economic importance in their gardens in the buffer zone of the reserve. Over 140 families in the Tahuayo and Tamshiyacu river basins now work in our agroforestry and tree-planting projects. The conservation goal is to enrich the area outside of the reserve with these species, especially trees, so that local residents will not have to enter the reserve to find them. Key species in this effort include aguaje (Mauritia flexuosa) and chambira palms (Astrocaryum chambira), and camu camu (Myrciaria dubia). At the same time, wildlife that rely on these species for food (e.g., primates, ungulates), will have more fruits to feed on in the wild when humans adopt this advantageous alternative to forest extraction. We would like to point out that in a different area located near the city of Iquitos, our newest agroforestry project expanded from one to three families in a small village located on the lower Itaya River. RCF helped finance the construction of a guard station there which helps protect the last remaining large area of mature rainforest near the mouth of the Itaya River and its wildlife.

Itaya River guard station construction project.

Mapping wild camu camu stands with a GPS unit.

Meanwhile, RCF Board member Dr. Chris Miller has been directing restoration work during 2010 on aguaje palm swamps (Mauritia flexuosa) that had been damaged from the cutting of fruit-producing palms and had been invaded by other vegetation with local approval for this long-term project. Extensive restoration work through the planting of young palms and the removal of invasive vegetation has been carried out since June of 2010 and will continue as funding permits. These palm swamps also serve as a research laboratory and a training area for community conservation leaders who are very concerned about the conservation and restoration of this keystone forest species.