The communities of San Antonio and Calabaza are situated in the Colibri Cloudforest in Peru’s ‘Selva Central’ where the Andes meets the Amazon. This Peruvian cloudforest region encompasses a wide range of microclimates and topographies and sustains a great number of endemic species of flora and fauna. Though these cloudforests are some of the least explored ecosystems in the world, they also suffer from deforestation created by the unsustainable land use practices of migrants who move to the area.
Since 2009, Rainforest Partnership has been the only non-profit organization working in the Colibri Cloudforest region with the communities of San Antonio and Calabaza.
In the early years of the project, the communities made an agreement with Rainforest Partnership to commit to the conservation of their cloudforest region and over the years have taken key in-roads in this direction. Their initial conservation efforts included prohibiting the collection of butterflies and orchids; hunting of birds and bears; extraction of wood, and the cutting and burning of forests for pasture.
Since then both the communities, with the help from Rainforest Partnership have been actively engaged in the development of their eco-tourism ventures including the construction of eco-hostels in San Antonio and Calabaza and improving their tour-guiding experience.
Currently, more than 300 tourists (domestic and international) visit these communities every year, boosting their economies. The positive impacts have also spurred the communities to take their own steps forward in creating a more sustainable and hygienic environment in their villages by improving their common community infrastructures and setting up regular recycling and trash collection services, thereby keeping the surrounding area in its best natural state. This has helped in reinforcing the importance of cultural identity in the communities and is supporting the educational funding for children and young adults to a greater extent.
Rainforest Partnership and the communities also have the support of several key partners in this project including various levels of governments and private institutions. Together, we are using this opportunity to expand upon the current eco-tourism project to broaden the conservation areas further beyond the project zones and establish a comprehensive forest protection to this cloudforest region.