Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Land Management, and Climate Change: A Comprehensive Approach to Land Management and Conservation in the Japu Community Territory
About the Implementing organization
Name: Japu Indigenous Community
Year of establishment: 2009
Type of organization: Indigenous group or organization
The Japu Community has always had a vision of the landscape that considers the complex systems of resources and interactions that foster the territory’s incredible biodiversity, remarkable ecosystem services, and natural climate resilience. This innovative initiative combines legal and scientific tools with the community’s traditional knowledge and practices to protect habitat and support sustainable livelihoods across the territory’s altitudinal gradient. A dual approach of traditional knowledge and biological data has proven to be highly successful, especially in the tropical Andes, where the effects of climate change are profound and increasingly dire as the landscape changes faster than local people are able to adapt to it.
As the impacts of climate change become increasingly profound, adapted traditional management practices for the territory’s altitudinal gradient have the potential to strengthen the community’s resilience to changes in the climate. The first step of this process started with years of work leading to the official declaration of the Ukumari Llaqta Private Conservation Area in 2012, which offers strict protection for over 50% of the community’s territory. In 2016, with support from ACA, the community began to expand their adaptive management in highland wetlands to control overgrazing and mitigate climate change that threatened the health of this important and fragile ecosystem. These efforts are guided by the community's holistic vision for its land.
Forests / Mountains / Wetlands / Wildlife
Type of Action
Protection / Sustainable use / Access and benefit sharing
Sustainable Development Element
Jobs and livelihoods / Food security / Water security / Climate action
The Japu community territory is part of a conservation landscape that stretches from the Ausangate glacier, through the cloud forest adjacent to world-renowned Manu National Park, and deep into the lush Amazon lowlands. Climate change poses a direct threat to bofedales and cloud forest ecosystems. In addition to supporting camelid livestock, bofedales provide many wild animals with water, food, and sites for nesting. As a result of climate change and overgrazing, bofedales are shrinking in size and drying. The cloud forest of Ukumari Llaqta protects an exceptional number of endemic and endangered species that might otherwise face significant habitat loss due to logging, uncontrolled fires, and climate change. Holistic, landscape-scale sustainable management strengthens the resilience of Japu’s ecosystems in the face of climate change, preserving the shrinking sites of bofedales, protecting standing forest, and allowing the community to continue practicing their traditional livelihoods.
Sustainable Development Impacts
Land-use management implemented through this initiative will improve the Japu community’s ability to raise camelid livestock on their land and improve their crops’ resistance to disease. These actions will ensure long-term sustainability of the community’s subsistence activities, and may improve the quality of the products that provide the community’s livelihoods and income. These impacts align with the Jobs and Livelihoods, Food Security, and Water Security thematic tags, as well as UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #15 for Sustainably Managed Forests. Adaptive management to mitigate the impacts of climate change falls under SDG #13 for Climate Action, as do the benefits of carbon storage provided by both bofedales and cloud forest ecosystems. This project also addresses SDG #3 for Health and Wellbeing through improved health of community resources, #5 for Gender Equality, as detailed above, and #4 for Education through knowledge transfer and participatory scientific research.
The declaration of a private conservation area within a community territory has enormous potential for implementation on a national scale. This fairly straightforward and accessible legal process provides strict protection for community land while providing additional opportunities for income from research and ecotourism. When integrated with landscape-scale management across the highland—tropical forest altitudinal gradients that are typical of Andean communities like Japu, this initiative promotes a readily scalable model for a climate-smart conservation mosaic based in traditional practices and reinforced by national legal mechanisms. Similarly, the initiative includes research for a pilot case of a Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) strategy for conservation of bofedales. Given the carbon storage capacity of bofedales, a PES strategy could be expanded to a national scale, especially given likely support from the Peruvian government, to protect bofedales throughout the country.
The goal of this initiative is to develop a model for sustainable land management in the highland wetlands and forest ecosystems of the Japu community territory that takes into account local ecological knowledge and complements it with scientific knowledge through a participatory process that is applicable to local communities across the highlands. Once the model has been established and implemented with success in the Japu community territory, we hope to expand the model to the entire Q’eros Nation, which is comprised of Japu and two additional community territories in Peru’s Andes-Amazon region. We also hope to replicate this project within the communities surrounding the Ausangate glacier, whose territories also contain large and intact bofedales ecosystems.
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