Creating a Firewall of Protection Around Sierra del Divisor National Park in Peru

Alyssa Wiltse-Ahmad

Dec 6, 2017

NewsProtected AreasCommunities

Over the last three years, Rainforest Trust and local partner Center for the Development of an Indigenous Amazon (CEDIA) helped 16 indigenous communities in Peru gain titles to their lands, totaling more than 428,815 acres. This is part of a larger effort to title over 50 community territories that will form a firewall against colonization around the Sierra del Divisor National Park and the soon-to-be White Sands National Reserve. Together, these two parks and the surrounding community lands will span almost 6 million acres.

  • Men of the Matsés indigenous community that live near Sierra del Divisor. Photo courtesy of CEDIA.

Since these communal lands will form a buffer zone around the protected areas, it is vital to have well-governed communities that practice good land management. By means of workshops and ongoing courses, communities will receive training in community organization, governance and record keeping. Rainforest Trust’s partner will also help these communities create sustainable management plans for their communal properties.

“The rainforests in the Amazon of Peru have some of the highest levels of biodiversity ever recorded on the planet, and are known to contain many new species to science, yet they are the most threatened forests across the entire Amazon, and only a handful of indigenous communities have been recognized and received their land,” said Rainforest Trust CEO Dr. Paul Salaman.

“When indigenous peoples finally secure legal rights to their land, it not only gives their communities access to state benefits such as healthcare and education, but also greatly strengthens conservation efforts, as it allows them to block mining and logging concessions on their lands.”

Climbing from an immense swath of rainforest, the Sierra del Divisor Mountain Range stretches more than 600 miles along the Peru-Brazil border in the heart of the Amazon Basin. Complete with plunging waterfalls, dormant volcanic cones, wild rivers, pristine forests and uncontacted tribes, this largely unknown and unexplored range is one of the Amazon’s last true wildernesses. The region is home to a biological community rich in rare and threatened species, including 38 mammals such as Jaguars, South American Tapirs and Red Uakari Monkeys. There are also believed to be 3,500 plant species, 300 fish species, 365 bird species and 109 amphibian species.

  • Image of the iconic El Cono. Photo courtesy of DIEGO PEREZ.

To safeguard this irreplaceable landscape, the 3.3 million-acre Sierra del Divisor National Park was created in 2015 through the support of Rainforest Trust, CEDIA, local indigenous communities and other supporters. The creation of this national park and its surrounding buffer zone have been part of a multi-year, multi-organizational effort to secure a conservation corridor that spans 67 million acres from the banks of the Amazon in Brazil to the snowcapped Andes of Peru. Local communities actively participate in safeguarding the national park, and are now further empowered through access to their land titles.

Through the generous support of our friends around the world and the SAVES Challenge, this project is a success. A special thank you to Leslie H. Danoff and Lawrence S. Robbins,, Luanne Lemmer and Dr. Eric Veach, Philip May and Leslie Santos and Brett Byers for their leadership gifts.

For more information on how you can support Rainforest Trust, visit our Conservation Action Fund.