Alto Mayo Conservation Initiative

Alto Mayo Conservation Initiative

This project is protecting a critical forest ecosystem that supports over 1,000 species in northern Peru. By providing benefits to local communities, the project motivates farmers to conserve the forest and promotes sustainable production of the region’s main crop: coffee.

Where & Why

The Alto Mayo Protected Forest is a critical ecosystem located in the San Martín region of the Peruvian Amazon. The forest covers approximately 182,000 hectares (450,000 acres) – an area twice the size of New York City. The area boasts extremely high biodiversity and is home to over 1,000 unique species, including rare birds, amphibians, and the yellow-tailed woolly monkey that is endemic to Peru. The forest also plays a valuable role in protecting the streams which provide water for the people who live in the Alto Mayo Basin. 

Although the Alto Mayo Forest is designated as a protected area, it is still threatened by high rates of deforestation and degradation. Rising coffee prices and a new highway spurred thousands of migrant farmers to flock to the region. It is estimated that more than 4,000 families now live in and around the forest.  Unfortunately, as more people settled in the region and agricultural production expanded, it came at a cost to Alto Mayo’s environment. Farmers burned and cleared trees to plant crops and utilized unsustainable coffee production techniques. As a result, they were destroying not only a critical ecosystem, but the very resources their livelihoods depend on.

How & Who

This REDD+ project is reducing tropical deforestation by protecting and restoring the Alto Mayo Protected Forest. It is addressing the main causes of deforestation in the area by working directly with local communities and the Peruvian Government. 

By providing economic benefits to local communities, the project incentivizes inhabitants to conserve the forest and protect its precious resources. Local families sign conservation agreements in exchange for benefits, such as agricultural training, farming equipment, public health campaigns, and school supplies.  By signing the agreements, families pledge to not cut down trees, use sustainable farming practices, and engage in various other conservation activities. In addition, farmers are provided with access to coffee and native tree seedlings so they can also plant native trees within their coffee plantations. 

To date, over 848 community members have pledged to protect the trees of Alto Mayo. In addition to providing incentives, the project is also creating new job opportunities for local communities. People are paid for certain conservation activities, such as patrolling and safeguarding the forest. In total, more than 240,000 inhabitants of the Alto Mayo Basin are benefiting as a result of the project.

Environmental Benefits

  • Conserves 450,000 acres of forest 
  • Safeguards tropical biodiversity
  • Protects water resources
  • Mitigates climate change by storing carbon

Community Benefits

  • Trains local communities on agricultural practices
  • Improves health and education
  • Ensures clean water for communities
  • Creates sustainable jobs for local people
Project Type


Annual CO2 Reduction

515,116 metric tons CO2e

SDGs Supported
Verification Standard
Project Developers

Conservation International

Project Documents

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