The La Novia Conservation Alliance recently completed its fifth year working to prevent illegal activities and protect threatened species along the La Novia River, a tributary of the Alto Purús River near the town of Puerto Esperanza. Initiated by UAC in 2014 with funding from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Wildlife Without Borders Latin America and Caribbean program, the Alliance is the only formal collaboration between indigenous communities and mestizo (non-indigenous) townspeople to work together protecting one of the most threatened areas of the Alto Purús region. The Alliance is led by an executive committee made up of its representatives of its primary partners: the Huni Kuin communities of Conta and San Jose, the Mabosinfrom Conservation Concession, and the Purús Communal Reserve, which is administered by Peru’s protected areas agency, Sernanp.
The Alliance was created to facilitate effective collaboration among local people to protect a watershed that was suffering from unsustainable and illegal logging, hunting and fishing due to its close proximity to the town of Puerto Esperanza, the capital of the Purús Province and home to roughly 3,000 people. Primary activities focus on conducting river patrols to prevent illegal activities, monitoring endangered and threatened species, and developing projects that promote sustainable and profitable resource use in local indigenous communities. Notable achievement over the first five years include:
- The 10 male and female members of the Conta and San Jose community vigilance committees are adequately equipped and trained, and effectively conducting river patrols to document and prevent illegal activities in their lands and the adjacent protected areas.
- As a result of the work of the vigilance committees, populations of regionally endangered species the giant river otter (Pteronura brasiliensis), yellow-spotted sideneck turtle (Podocnemis unifilis) and Arapaima fish (Arapaima gigas) have all increased. In 2017, river otters were seen on the La Novia River for the first time in a decade.
- New government certified management plans detail the sustainable management of lakes in the communities of Conta and Miguel Grau. In 2019, for the first time in history, these communities sold sustainably harvested fish from their lakes to townspeople in Puerto Esperanza, raising much-needed income to buy clothing, medicine, gasoline and other manufactured items.
- Certified management plans are being used by Conta and Miguel Grau for the sustainable harvest and sale of resin from the Copaiba tree (Copaifera) which is in high demand in Peru and internationally for its remarkable medicinal properties.
- The Mabosinfron Conservation Concession is now the only functioning research station in the greater Alto Purús region, hosting visiting scientists, students, and ecotourists from Peru and abroad who seek opportunities to experience intact Amazonian jungle.