The Amazon Conservation Association (ACA) works to conserve the biological diversity of the Amazon basin. Our efforts are geographically focused in the headwaters of the Amazon basin, where the Amazon forest meets the Andes range in southeastern Peru and northern Bolivia. This area has long been recognized as one of the most biologically rich regions on earth. Here the Amazon wilderness is still largely intact and extends for thousands of miles without interruption, providing habitat to jaguars, tapirs, giant river otters and many other species facing extinction elsewhere. Protecting the slopes of the eastern Andes provides a safe haven for rare species in times of rapid climate change.
ACA currently protects over 1.5 million acres of Amazonian rainforest through conservation concessions, Brazil nut concessions, and research stations. Using cutting-edge science and innovative conservation tools, ACA is creating models for others to follow.
The mission of the Amazon Conservation Association is to conserve the biological diversity of the Amazon Basin.
The Amazon Conservation Association envisions a network of state, community, and private lands managed for conservation and sustainable resource use so that the biological diversity of the southwest Amazon basin is conserved.
We strive to establish partnerships with governments, local communities and other conservation organizations to develop innovative conservation tools that will expand the amount of protected land in the region. Our actions are informed by scientific research and designed to achieve concrete and measurable outcomes. We are committed to concentrating our resources and capabilities in the field, where they have the largest conservation impact. We believe that longterm conservation is best ensured by active and informed participation of local stakeholders, and we collaborate with forest users who seek to improve their resource management practices.
ACA was founded in 1999 by Dr. Adrian Forsyth and Enrique Ortiz. Dr. Forsyth is a Harvard-educated tropical ecologist and one of North America’s finest natural history writers and author of nine books. Enrique Ortiz is one of Peru’s most respected conservationists, having established one of Peru’s first environmental organizations (APECO). After working together on a project supporting forest protection with Brazil nut harvesters in Peru’s Madre de Dios region, they decided to found an organization that could focus on enouraging other such projects that offer sustainable livelihoods for local communities while protecting the highest diversity areas of the Amazon rainforest.
Brazil Nut Program: Brazil nuts are a natural forest product whose harvest guarantees income for Amazonian people. ACA’s Brazil nut program supports over 500 Brazil nut harvesters to ensure a sustainable livelihood while protecting their forest resource through technical support, training, and certification.
Los Amigos Conservation Concession: In 2001, ACA established the world's first private conservation concession in the Los Amigos River watershed. The Los Amigos Conservation Concession protects 360,000 acres of old growth Amazonian forest at the base of the Andes in southeastern Peru, bordering on Manu National Park.
Haramba Queros Wachiperi Conservation Concession: In 2008, ACA, in collaboration with the Amazonian Haramba Queros native community, established the first conservation concession in Peru run by an indigenous community. Through support from ACA, the Haramba Queros are now successfully ensuring protection of their water supply and continued access to medicinal plants in addition to preserving space for their cultural traditions to flourish.
Environmental Education and Training: ACA’s experienced staff shares innovative conservation tools and practices with local organizations and communities. Our field stations, CICRA and Wayqecha, have become centers for educational trips by local schoolchildren as well as leading training sites for local and international university groups. This focus on training reflects our conviction that saving the greatest forests on Earth requires supercharging a new generation of South American scientists and conservationists.
Wayqecha Cloud Forest Research Station: In 2005, ACA created Peru's only permanent research center focused on Andean cloud forest ecology and management. This 1,450-acre research center, called Wayqecha is located in the buffer zone of Manu National Park near Cusco. Here, ACA provides scholarships to an average of 20 university students per year to study local biota, ecosystem interactions, and the impacts of climate change on the forest.
Conserving the Pampas del Heath, Bolivia: Located in northern Bolivia, the Pampas del Heath are among the best-conserved Amazonian savannas. These natural savannas are home to rare and threatened mammals like the maned wolf and the marsh deer, which are vanishing from the surrounding forest. In the Pampas, ACA monitors flora and fauna, studies fire ecology and traditional indigenous management, and works to ensure the long-term survival of savannas in and around Madidi National Park.
Sustainable micro-enterprise development: ACA works in Cusco and surrounding regions to identify livelihood alternatives for local communities that support land conservation.
Through work with local partners, the Amazon Conservation Association has protected hundreds of thousands of acres of Amazonian rainforest in Peru and Bolivia. ACA has developed and implemented successful programs to develop biological research stations and to provide alternative means of income for families who are reliant upon the forest for their income.
1. Mitigate the environmental impact of the new Interoceanic Highway being paved through Madre de Dios, Peru, to avoid carbon emissions, prevent deforestation, and protect biodiversity. o Strategy: Design and create a biological corridor made up of a mosaic of conservation land uses that will provide sustainable development options for local communites and incorporate innovative legal conservation tools. o Progress: We have secured a $2.25 million grant to this end from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and work began towards this project in January 2008. 2. Expand sustainable natural resource management activities in the cloud forest by supporting the new Queros Conservation Concession and develop new markets for sustainable forest products. o Strategy: Support the Queros indigenous community with microenterprise and ecotourism plans that will provide financial sustainability for their newly awarded conservation concession. o Progress: ACA helped the Queros community establish the first conservation concession in Peru in the name of an indigenous community in July 2008 and has helped create a management plan for protecting the territory. 3. Convert our research stations into hubs for environmental education and training for Peruvian students. o Strategy: Create an environmental education program in which local students from high schools and universities visit ACA’s two research stations. o Progress: Already in 2008, our Wayqecha Cloud Forest Research Center hosted 124 students on field trips including our newly created interpretive trail. Our lowland research station, CICRA, host weekly “Science Saturdays” for an average of 15 children per week from the neighboring town of Boca Amigos.
Cesar Moran-Cahusac, ACA's Executive Director, was born in Lima, Peru and received a master's degree in Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry. He has worked in a vast array of conservation projects. At the Agrarian University of Lima - La Molina where he studied animal sciences, he developed a "hands on" environmental educational program based on organic gardening for school children in Lima. Later on, he worked for a period of seven years as the Project Coordinator for the Machu Picchu Program, a debt for nature swap between the countries of Finland and Peru which supported this park in environmental issues.
Adrian Forsyth, President and co-founder of ACA, has a Harvard PhD in tropical ecology and more than 20 years tropical conservation experience. He is currently a Research Associate at the Smithsonian Institution and Vice President of Programs at Blue Moon Fund. Enrique Ortiz, co-founder and Vice President, is one of Peru's most respected conservationists, having established one of the first environmental groups in Peru (APECO). John Tobin de la Puente, Secretary, John is Vice President and Counsel at Credit Suisse, in Zurich, Switzerland. He holds a law degree and Ph.D. in biology from Harvard and was raised in Lima, Peru. Elizabeth Losos, Director, is the President and CEO of the Organization for Tropical Studies. Sarah duPont, Director, has worked for the past 20 years in the public, private and inner city school systems providing cultural enrichment programs and environmental education. Dorothy Batten, Director, is Director of Landmark Communications, Inc. She is actively involved at the University of Virginia at the Batten Institute and at the Jefferson Scholars Foundation, and is currently Co-chair of the Arts Council. Jessica Nagle, Treasurer, was the co-founder of SNL Financial LC, the premier provider of sector-specific financial information. Miles Silman, Director, is Associate Professor of Biology at Wake Forest University, has performed research in the western Amazon and the Andes for 17 years. Avecita Chicchón, Director, is the Wildlife Conservation Society's Latin America and Caribbean Program Director. Nigel Pitman, Director, holds a Ph.D. in botany and has written extensively on tropical conservation and Amazonian tree communities.