Forest-friendly farming in Peru


A profusion of wildlife depends on Peru’s Madre de Dios region. But this 21 million-acre swath of Amazonian rain forest is increasingly threatened by deforestation. In agricultural Tahuamanu Province, for example, the rate of deforestation doubled between 2013 and 2016. To counter this trend, in 2017 WWF and Peruvian government agencies partnered with livestock farmers in Tahuamanu on a pilot project to increase productivity and decrease ecological impact.

AGRICULTURAL FRONTIER Tahuamanu encompasses the largest extent of conserved forests in Madre de Dios. But it is also at the leading edge of agricultural conversion for livestock farming in the region. Between 2001 and 2020, Madre de Dios lost nearly 630,000 acres of forest.

TAKING STOCK The WWF-led pilot program focused on 10 farms. After an assessment of existing practices for efficiency and impact, the team focused on improving practices for livestock management, with the goal of strengthening local capacity for sustainable land use and reducing deforestation rates.

EVERYTHING ON THE TABLE Meetings that took place on farms such as the Fundo Colibrí farm pictured here ensured that all parties were able to develop solutions together. By implementing sustainable livestock practices that they helped identify, the farmers were able to improve their production parameters, stop deforestation on their farms, and even free up land to return to its natural state.

GREENER PASTURES For example, before the project, cattle were walked long distances to grazing areas, compacting the soil and losing weight as they went. They overused and degraded the land, necessitating the conversion of more forest for grazing. The pilot participants, however, subdivided their large plots into smaller plots enclosed in solar-powered electric fencing and rotated the livestock through those plots. Moving cattle out after one or two days gave the soil and grass time to recover. And the dung, concentrated in a limited area, fertilized the grass naturally. Now the first 10 farmers are teaching more farmers in the region—over 200 so far—what they have learned.

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