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“UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Gran Pajatén”: 2.4 million hectares registered

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Some projects look like a fairy tale, Gran Pajatén is one of them. A project which came by chance in 2007, in the remote village of Santa Rosa in the Peruvian Amazon, during a fortunate encounter in a cocoa agroforestry field between Tristan Lecomte, then Alter Eco’s Director, and Cecilia Larrea, a Peruvian student who was calculating the carbon stocks sequestered by agroforestry models. Cocoa farmers seemed amused, and could not imagine that this meeting would be the starting point for multiple reforestation and forest conservation projects, now grouped in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Gran Pajatén, declared last May on 2.4 million hectares.

To date, the small-scale coffee and cocoa farmers of the region have already planted more than 3 million trees in agroforestry and forest regeneration models, with the support of PUR Projet and its partners. They also concessioned 400 000 hectares of primary forest (about 200 million trees) for the conservation of this environment for 40 years, in partnership with the Peruvian Government and with our support.

Gran Pajatén includes our projects areas and a national park (Rio Abiseo) of 250 000 hectares, already a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its natural and cultural resources (pre-Inca ruins of Gran Pajatén, a major archaeological site, not open to the public), and numerous other conservation areas, agricultural activities and houses.

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This is an outstanding achievement but also a big challenge, because for such project sizes, we need to reinvent the ambitions and financing models of the project and find very powerful levers to ultimately cover all the needs in the area.

The Peruvian Government invests strongly, with an ambitious socio-environmental territorial vision for this project and a planting program of 40 million trees in the area over 44 000 hectares. And PUR Projet is now working with all local organizations (cooperatives, associations, municipal authorities, schools, companies and independent farmers), NGOs, impact funds and international institutions to roll out the projects on a regional scale.

2.4 million hectares, that is half of a French region, or two to three departments: we move onto the step of regional project management. From cocoa fields, we went to project management at a landscape level with Biocorredor Martin Sagrado REDD+ project, and now to a regional level, within the framework of national and international policies for climate and the overall regeneration of territories, giving priority to the most degraded lands.

This area was dedicated to the illicit cultivation of coca until the 1980s and is highly deforested. It is time (and urgent) to scale up….

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