Project

Cordillera Azul

The beautiful Cordillera Azul (Spanish for ‘Blue Mountains) is in Peru’s high forest between the Andes and the Amazon Basin. Its stunning mountains, sparkling blue lagoons, rich biodiversity, and multicultural population have rightly earned this area the name the ‘jewel of the Peruvian Amazon’.

And at Ecosphere+, we want to help keep it that way.

Our Cordillera Azul project joins sustainable economic development with environmental conservation in a landscape of 3.7 million hectares including the protection of 1.5 million hectares of threatened forest in Cordillera Azul National Park and its buffer zone.

We are proud to have helped create positive change to the area’s indigenous and local communities. Our work has helped to improve the wildlife’s population and habitat and protect threatened Amazonian rainforest, providing a real solution to climate change now.

Protecting Nature

Climate Change Mitigation

The Cordillera Azul National Park is threatened by illegal logging, cattle ranching, ‘slash and burn’ agriculture, illicit agriculture, and infrastructure development.

Forests are amazingly efficient at absorbing and storing massive amounts of carbon from the atmosphere – until they’re burned or processed. This then creates carbon dioxide emissions, the most abundant greenhouse gas causing climate change.

Which means that protecting our forests, such as the one in Cordillera Azul National Park, is critical to managing global climate change.

By effectively putting a value on the carbon that the park stores in its forest, Cordillera Azul reduces global emissions by a total of 16.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide – equivalent to taking over 3.4 million cars off the road for a year.

This means that carbon revenue creates a reliable financing stream we can use to help target the causes of deforestation and create alternative economic activities.

But can just one area in one part of the world really have an effect on our global climate? Two independent, transparent, and globally recognized standards firmly believe it can. The Climate, Community, and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) verifies the benefits of the project to local communities, wildlife and biodiversity, and the climate. And the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) ensures the quality and accuracy of the accounting methodology used to measure the project’s climactic benefits. Read more about these standards here.

We’re proud to say that Cordillera Azul has earned the Gold distinction for biodiversity under the CCBA standard.

Climate Change Adaptation and Ecosystem Resilience

The Cordillera Azul project stretches from the Andes to the Amazon Basin. This vast area supports and strengthens the resilience of diverse ecosystems including mountain forest, hill forest, alluvial forest, and wetlands, which all help the local communities adapt to a rapidly changing climate.

The Park is also the source of 45 watersheds that feed two of the Amazon’s major tributaries. These watersheds provide key ecosystem services, such as flood and soil erosion protection to the surrounding areas, in addition to supporting local agriculture.

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Lost World Lagoon

Species Protection

Cordillera Azul protects 28 High Conservation Value (HCV) species, including the spectacled bear, the jaguar, and the harpy eagle. HCV species are outstandingly significant or critically important at the national, regional or global level. HCV requirements are integrated into the principles and criteria of major sustainability certification schemes such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). They also factor into purchasing and investment policies and sustainability commitments of global banks, financial institutions, traders, retailers, processors and distributors of wood, paper and agricultural commodities.

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Azulina, a female spectacled bear, and her cub rescued in Cordillera Azul National Park. Photo credit: Heinz Plenge

Empowering People

Livelihoods

The local and indigenous communities play a pivotal role in maintaining the integrity of the project. They are drivers of their own transformation and in ensuring the global climate impact of what they do.

Approximately 250,000 people in over 440 communities live here, and by the end of the project it will have engaged 34 communities and supported 730 jobs, with 30% of these held by women.

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Women leaders from Yamino Community using ancient techniques to create unique handcrafts

Genuine Community Engagement

Community engagement is key to ensuring our project is socially inclusive. Our project partner, a local NGO called CIMA, has been working in the Cordillera Azul area since 2002 to help strengthen local communities, build their capacity, and develop and implement economic and well-being strategies.

This helps to improve access to basic services and establish sustainable economic opportunities. In the area surrounding the Park, CIMA helps local farmers integrate sustainability into their work and partners with nearby coffee and cacao cooperatives to advance commercially viable production.

Sustainable Economic Growth

Sustainable Enterprise

Small enterprises are absolutely vital in creating positive change in rural communities, but many of them lack sufficient capacity or market connections to succeed without external support. So to help truly achieve scale, the Cordillera Azul project prioritizes working with local enterprises by focusing on effective management, profitability, solvency, and access to finance. By 2021, the project aims to support 24 enterprises.

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Women working at a cocoa collection centre

Green Commodities

The Cordillera Azul project integrates conservation and sustainable approaches to productive land use. Coffee and cacao are grown in the production area surrounding the national park (the ‘buffer zone’) with the ultimate goal of achieving commercial scale.

Well-experienced local co-operatives are working with approximately 5,000 local families on the project to process these forest-friendly products sustainably and add economic value. This is achieved through gaining organic, fair trade, and kosher certifications that is helping to improve access to markets as well as obtain better prices for their products.

Find out more about these products and how to purchase them here.

Fair Economic Return

The Cordillera Azul project is designed to be a new way of doing business. One that transforms local communities and ecosystems through multiple revenue streams, such as carbon assets, agricultural products, textiles and crafts.

Through a benefit-sharing agreement, the project investors also receive a fair return. Cordillera Azul really does demonstrate the financial viability and sustainability of aligning economy and ecology.

And this perfectly shows how this model can be scaled globally.

How you can help

You can help support this project in the Peruvian Amazon through taking responsibility for your carbon impact and helping to protect the trees in this project.

We invite you to join us.

Sustainable Development Goals

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Sustainable Development Goal 4 – Quality Education
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Sustainable Development Goal 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production
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Sustainable Development Goal 17 – Partnerships for the Goals