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  1. Project Name: Integrated Ecosystem Management in the Cotahuasi Basin

  1. GEF Implementing Agency: United Nations Development Program

  1. Country or countries in which

the project is being implemented: Peru

  1. Country eligibility: Peru ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity through Law Nº 26181 on April 30, 1993.

  1. GEF Focal area (s): Biological Diversity

  1. Operational program: OP 12: Integrated Ecosystem Management

  1. Project linkage to national priorities, action plans and programs:

The Cotahuasi Basin is one of thirty-eight areas that have been given priority by the National Institute of Natural Resources (INRENA) as part of the Strategy of a National System of Peruvian Natural Protected Areas (National Master Plan for Protected Areas, 1999). In addition, it is one of only two of such designated areas located within the high mountain zone of the southwestern Peruvian Andes. This designation qualifies all or parts of the Cotahuasi Basin to be declared as Natural Protected Area(s), although no such areas have as yet been established (refer to map in Annex 1).

The Project will complement ongoing activities oriented toward fulfilling Article XI of the Preliminary Rubric of Environment Legislation (Legislative Decree Nº 613). In particular, consideration is given to article Nº 53 that deals with the management of Natural Protected Areas in accordance with the principles of the Worldwide Conservation Strategy, as well as following the specific guidelines provided in the Law of Natural Protected Areas (Nº 26834).
Finally, the Project fits into the Peruvian government’s current emphasis on promoting integrated ecosystem management programs. Among the current programs are the Proyecto Especial Lago Titicaca (PELT) for the management of the Lake Titicaca Ecosystem, initiated by the Peruvian Government and supported by GEF, the Biosphere Reserve of the North (mangroves, dry forests), supported by Holland Cooperation and implemented by Pro Naturaleza and INRENA, and a program for conserving dry (algarrobo) forests along the northern coast of Peru.

  1. Status of national operational focal point review (dates)

Submitted: 15 June 1998 Acknowledged: Endorsed 20 January 1999

  1. Description of Project Baseline:

1. Strategic Approach
The Project is fully consistent with the provisions of Operational Program 12, Integrated Ecosystem Management, creating a legal and institutional environment for management, strengthening the capacities of institutions to coordinate responses to environmental dilemmas, and through providing technical assistance for field demonstration, removing constraints to adoption of improved productions systems compatible with conservation management objectives. While primarily geared towards generating global conservation benefits, by protecting flora and fauna that might otherwise be extinguished, the project will also generate other global environmental benefits by foreclosing severe land and water degradation.
The strategic objective is to marry global environmental protection and rural sustainable development objectives through demonstration of an integrated ecosystem management paradigm that scales up the focus of environmental management to the basin wide level. To achieve this, the project will establish the institutional framework and local capacities to manage a mosaic of biodiversity-friendly land and resource uses, including set-asides for biodiversity protection, compatible agricultural and pastoral systems, and ecological restoration.
The Project will promote numerous cross-sectoral strategies and outcomes at both the ecological and institutional level. By improving agricultural and grazing practices, the Project will reduce erosion, preserve agro-biodiversity, and reduce pressure on native biodiversity and remaining forests. By improving forest management, reducing deforestation, and promoting reforestation, the Project will preserve biodiversity, reduce erosion and water quality degradation, and improve livelihoods. At the institutional level, the Project will integrate agricultural and credit agencies with conservation agencies, and will integrate the mining and tourism industries and actors with conservation authorities and actors.
2. Description of Project Area
The Project Area is the Cotahuasi basin, a valley on the western slopes of the Andes that coincides approximately with that of La Unión province, an area of 474,600 hectares (see Annex 1). The Cotahuasi basin is the deepest canyon in the world, ranging in altitude from 900 meters in the coastal desert zone up to 6100 meters in the high mountain areas1. Most of the basin is very rugged terrain, dominated by valleys, canyons, plateaus, ravines, steep slopes, mountain chains, and puna (high altitude rolling terrain), and can be categorized into three distinct zones that differ markedly in their physical and biological characteristics.
The high zone (above 3,800 meters) is primarily arid terrain with some relict forest patches, a high diversity of wild fauna and flora (with particularly high endemism among the forest species), and extensive ranching of South America camelid species (lamas and alpacas). The middle zone (between 2,500 and 3,800 meters) is the most humid part of the basin and is the location of most of the human inhabitants, cultivated land, and significant agro-biodiversity. The lower zone (between 900 and 2,500 meters), is extremely arid, being the northern limit of the Atacama desert, but does contain some small oases which harbor a variety of fruits and xerophytic species. Although distinct, the three ecological zones are inextricably linked by the flow of water resources, altitudinal (vertical) migration of some species, and human resource management practices.
People have lived in the Cotahuasi basin for more than 10,000 years. Approximately 17,300 people currently live within the Project Area, almost all of them indigenous members of the Wari, Chankas, Incas, or other local peoples. According to a 1994 Agrarian Census, 154,116 hectares (31.20% of the basin) are suitable for agriculture, and 140,132 hectares (28.37% of the basin) are suitable for natural pasture. In practice, however, only a small fraction of these areas are actually under cultivation or used as pasture at this time. Approximately 70% of the human population is centered along the Cotahuasi river, where they farm in a very limited area of about 6,000 hectares. Agricultural lands are mostly in private hands, with some communal areas, and primarily of a small size (less than one hectare). Additional isolated groups live in the puna highlands above the valley floor where they manage sheep and vicuna herds, with ranchers typically managing lands larger than ten hectares.
The basin was one of the centers of Andean crop and animal development, with domestication and use of crop varieties (corn, potatoes, olluco, quinua, cañihua, etc.) and animals (guinea pigs, alpacas and llamas). An inventory of phytogenetic resources for food and agriculture in the Cotahuasi basin has identified 582 varieties previously or currently used by farmers (including, for example, 43 varieties of quinoa) (see Annex 2). Many of these varieties are still cultivated by a few growers, but some are disappearing completely due to market demands and changes in food habits of the local people.
The Cotahuasi basin was selected by INRENA as one of two areas in the high mountain zone of the southwestern Peruvian Andes for possible inclusion in the National System of Natural Protected Areas owing to the presence of a wide variety of flora and fauna, and concentrations of endemic and endangered species of plants, mammals, birds, amphibians, fish and invertebrates (see Annex 3). According to Dinerstein et al., the area is part of Ecoregion 173, comprising the Sechura desert, considered as vulnerable, bioregionally outstanding and of moderate priority at regional scale; and Ecoregion 141, comprising the Central Andean Puna, considered as vulnerable, regionally outstanding, and of highest priority for conservation at regional scale.

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