Ecuador and Peru are moving forward with plans to make the first UNESCO Transboundary Biosphere Reserve to protect almost 2 million hectares (around 4.5 million acres) of the remarkable dry forest ecosystem and endemic wildlife which exists across the border of the two countries.
Key stakeholders met to discuss the proposal for a reserve to unite the Bosque Seco Biosphere Reserve of southwestern Ecuador and the Noroeste Amotapes-Manglares Biosphere Reserve of northern Peru under conservation protection.
World Land Trust’s partner organisations Naturaleza y Cultura Ecuador (NCEcuador) and Naturaleza y Cultura Peru (NCPeru) have extensive experience in conserving dry forests in both countries, and have been supporting the Ministry of Environment of Ecuador and the National Services of Natural Protected Areas in Peru on the proposal for the reserve. Naturaleza y Cultura Ecuador was also instrumental in Bosque Seco being declared a biosphere reserve in Ecuador in 2014.
Peaceful cooperation for nature conservation
There are currently 16 UNESCO Transboundary Biosphere Reserves (TBRs) in 23 countries around the world. Joining two or more reserves across international boundaries represents a political commitment to cooperate in the conservation and sustainable use of a shared ecosystem.
The presidents of the two countries made a joint decision to propose a transboundary reserve in December 2015 and further the peaceful, cooperative relationship between the two countries which began after the signing of the Peace Accords of 1998.
Nature knows no borders
The dry forest ecosystem which would be protected by the reserve is home to more than 800 bird species, of which 59 cannot be found anywhere else in the world, which makes it a birdwatching hotspot.
UNESCO are hoping that establishing the TBR will help local economies in terms of joint eco-tourism development proposals, boosting coordinated business ventures between the two countries.
Mónica Alzamora, Project Coordinator at NCPeru, says “In Peru, the TBR would include the coastal area that perhaps houses the most important tourism beaches and landings of artisanal fisheries in Peru; this is a critical area where you can enhance the management and sustainable coastal development.”
“Much of the water that irrigates the growing agriculture in the two border regions of Peru comes from Ecuador, and its quality and quantity depends on management of the watersheds that would be within the TBR. Finally, this proposal will strengthen the protection of a more continuous corridor of protected natural areas for equatorial dry forest.”
The TBR proposal is part of a UNESCO initiative “Biosphere Reserves as a Tool for Coastal and Island Management in the South-East Pacific Region” which aims to create and reinforce existing biosphere reserves on the coastal areas and islands of the west coast of the continent in Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and Peru.