Press release - Peruvian Farmers Take Conservation Matters into their Own Hands -"Hocicón" The First Conservation Area Run by the Ronda Campesina
On the 22nd of November the village of Líbano celebrated the launch of Hocicon, the first Ronda Run Conservation Area (ARCA), under a new conservation model which creates protected areas managed by this grassroots organization. The505.9 haarea is located in the village ofLibano, Omia district, Amazonas, Peru.
The Ronda Campesina (Peasant Patrol) is a network of autonomous, civil organizations, aimed at self-protection. They practice vigilance and civil justice in the rural Peruvian countryside where state control is insufficient. It is the largest and most influential grassroots movement in Northeastern Peru. In 2009 the Peruvian Supreme Court recognized the legitimacy and autonomy of the Ronda Campesina to administer justice in a parallel system to that of the state. The same law that recognizes the Ronda Campesina also asserts that one of the functions of the organization is 'to contribute to the preservation of their natural environment'. This means that the Ronda have the legal capacity to declare rural areas as conservation areas. The Ronda Campesina of Amazonas and San Martin regions have demonstrated extraordinary environmental responsibility, confronting environmental issues that are mostly ignored by the Peruvian government, such as wildlife and land trafficking.
The ARCAs have a double impact; firstly they allow fast and effective conservation from local initiatives. People that live in and near the forests demonstrate high environmental consciousness and a capacity to administrate protection in rural areas that state agencies cannot match; and secondly, these reserves focus attention on state conservation systems that necessitate high economic investment and lengthy bureaucratic processes, excluding local people and missing out on many opportunities for conservation by a population that does not have the means or academic expertise to follow traditional conservation courses.
The idea of ARCAs came from the long and successful relationship between the Ronda Campesina and British NGO Neotropical Primate Conservation (NPC) with the intention of filling gaps in critical areas of the regional and national protected areas systems inPeru. Together we have produced a detailed instruction manual for the creation of these areas (http://www.neoprimate.org/Publications/ARCAs.pdf). This initiative and the manual were approved by the National Ronda Assembly on the 9 June 2012, at a meeting held in the city ofChota,Cajamarca,Peru. These conservation areas will be registered with the local, regional and national Ronda bases, which will be in charge of protecting them. Meanwhile NPC provides technical assistance.
About 350 people took part in the event, including local and regional political authorities, Ronda members from neighbouring villages, teachers, school children, press and NGOs; Everyone congratulated the Ronda for taking this initiative for conservation and promised their help in promoting and protecting the first Ronda Environmental Conservation Area, “Hocicón“. This reserve protects an area of tropical Andean cloud forest, one of the most diverse biomes on earth. During visits for biological inventories many endangered and endemic species were recorded including the Andean night monkey (Aotus miconax), only found in the departments of Amazonas and San Martin, the Endangered white bellied spider monkey (Ateles belzebuth), jaguars, tapirs and many more.
Líbano 22 November 2012.