Peru’s protected natural areas sustain both people and nature

06 August 2014 | Article

Livelihoods, food and biodiversity are tightly interwoven in and around Huascarán National Park and other natural protected areas in Peru.

Sustainable forestry, agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture provide both food and livelihoods for people living in the villages spread across Peru’s 140 conservation areas. Thanks to a respectful use of natural resources, products cultivated or gathered in these protected areas help reduce poverty and improve the lives of the people living in and around them.

There is long history behind the tarwi crops (Lupinus mutabilis), or chocho as it is known by the local people living in Conchucos and Sierras Ancashinas) and the 111 potato varieties cultivated in this part of the Cordillera Blanca.


Shongos community members enjoy a mountain picnic with freshly-harvested organic products - a luxury at over 4,000 metres. Photo by El Sabor de la Naturaleza, SERNANP-PERU

In the community of Chichupampa which lies at 1,500 metres, experts from the SERNANP (Peruvian service for protected natural areas) and the International Potato Centre, based in Lima, are reintroducing these varieties in small family plots.

As local leader Don Fidencio Salas commented: “Our potatoes have no chemicals, are grown irrigated with rainwater and snowmelt, are organic and delicious – some are for local markets, but they are mainly for our own food security”.

Much of what is now known as Peruvian cuisine had its origin in humble cooking pots of the Andes. This is the realm of native potatoes, beans (Vicia faba), alpaca (Vicugna pacus) and cuy (Cavia porcellus) meat, as well as other foods used for local festivities, processions and baptisms throughout the entire Cordillera.

Various meats of colonial origin, such as pork, beef and lamb, have joined these native Peruvian products. The sacrosanct Pachamanca, which involves cooking with hot stones buried in the ground, is a symbol of communion with the fruits lavished by the earth.

Peru’s natural protected areas were created to protect Peruvian biodiversity. SERNANP uses an ecosystem-wide, integrated and participatory approach to sustainably manage the biodiversity, social and economic benefits these areas provide.