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TESS Seminar- Landscape Connectivity Loss Threatens Peru Biodiversity Hotspot: Outlook for Land-use Changes

When Sep 27, 2017
from 04:00 PM to 05:00 PM
Where D3.054 Cairns, 145.030 Townsville
Contact Name
Contact Phone 07 4232 1427
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Dr Francisco DallmeierFrancisco Dallmeier
Director of Center for Conservation and Sustainability
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute


The Tropical Andes hotspot from Venezuela to Argentina is considered the epicenter of global biodiversity. Within this region, the Vilcabamba-Amboro Conservation Corridor (VACC) of Peru and Bolivia, also called “the hearth of biodiversity,” connects 300,000 km2 of Andes and Amazon headwaters with high biodiversity value. Within the VACC, the Madre de Dios Department of Peru was recognized and designated by law as Peru’s capital of biodiversity. Yet the VACC in Madre de Dios is increasingly threatened by development and un-sustainable land-use practices. Of the 18 protected areas of the VACC, six of them (totaling 80,435 km2) are in Madre de Dios, including the internationally recognized 15,330 km2 Manu National Park and World Heritage Site. 

Completed in 2013, the Inter-Oceanic Highway connecting Peru and Brazil is an important source of economic development for Peru and Madre de Dios. Land cover and ecosystem changes around the Inter-Oceanic Highway have expanded considerably, with secondary roads growth, logging, extensive illegal gold mining, far-reaching defaunation of natural habitats, and widespread agriculture and cattle ranching, all with significant impacts on landscape connectivity of the VACC. The Smithsonian team studied the landscape changes in Madre de Dios including the impacts of the Highway from 1993 to 2013. The team also assessed the biodiversity value of the poorly known Amarakaeri Communal Reserve (4,023 km2) adjacent to the Inter-Oceanic Highway in Madre de Dios. The Communal Reserve, currently threatened by illegal gold mining and logging, is a fundamental protected area for the long-term viability of the VACC, as it connects the buffer zones of the Manu National Park and the Tambopata Reserve. In consultation with stakeholders, we developed and modelled four future landscape scenarios through 2040 for Madre de Dios. These scenarios included the following: 1)  the current trends where present-day political, economic, and social tendencies are maintained; 2) the unmanaged expansion of alluvial gold mining  due to poor land management, weak law enforcement, increased immigration, and high international prices of gold; 3) land planning where  a  sustainable Department’s land management plan is applied and enforced; and 4) landscape conservation where a new land management focused on preserving  biodiversity and landscape is applied and enforced. We identified and proposed to the government of Peru four essential landscape connectivity corridors to be managed as sustainable working landscapes to secure the long-term connectivity of the VACC beyond 2040.


Dr Francisco Dallmeier is the Director of the Center for Conservation and Sustainability at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, in Washington, D.C.  He is a leading conservation biologist working with the development sector to integrate conservation needs with infrastructure-development priorities to sustain biodiversity.  He is a senior adviser to policy makers and financial institutions in the development and implementation of best practices for sustainable development.  He has been responsible for designing and implementing biodiversity action plans, biodiversity monitoring and assessment programs, and mainstreaming avoidance, minimization, restoration, and offsets for development projects in critical habitats in Latin America and Africa.  Francisco has developed and implemented professional capacity-building programs in conservation and sustainability for the public and private sectors.  He was instrumental in creating the Smithsonian-World Bank Global Tiger Initiative, the Smithsonian-George Mason University School of Conservation, and the National Science Foundation-National Ecological Observatory Mid-Atlantic Network.  Francisco’s publications and photographs have been published widely. He has worked and taught internationally for over 30 years and traveled professionally in nearly 70 countries.

Centre for Tropical Environmental & Sustainability Sciences

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