Found off South America’s west coast on the Pacific Ocean, Peru is home to a rich variety of biomes. In total, according to the Olson & Dinerstein (1995) classification of biomes, there are six biomes in Peru, tropical forest; tropical and subtropical broadleaf forests; tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests; savanna; deserts and xeric shrublands; grasslands; and montane shrublands. Within Peru’s six biomes, there are a wealth of ecoregions that can be found in the country. When discussing Peru’s ecoregions, the World Wildlife Fund’s ecoregions developed by Olson & Dinerstein  will be referred to. Within Peru’s six biomes, there are over 20 ecoregions, ranging from the Gulf of Guayaquil-Tumbes Mangroves on Peru’s Pacific northern coastline to the Cordillera Central Páramo up above the treeline of the Andes. For the sake of this assignment, we will only be focusing on a total of 6-7 ecoregions.
A Brief Paleobiogeography of South America
The ancient supercontinent Gondwana started to break apart about 180 million years ago. Gondwana contains the present South America, Africa, Arabia, Madagascar, India, Australia, and Antarctica continents. There are many evidences show southern continents share distinct floras and faunas than Northern Hemisphere continents. The orogenic activity of the Andean mountain began from the early Cretaceous to Cenozoic era. The South America continent experienced various climate change event in the Cenozoic era. Many species have evolved in the Andean mountain range and the amazon basin for the past millions of years and created biodiversity hotspots.. The endemic species in this isolated continent experienced a major biotic interchange event, The Great American Interchange (GABI), after the formation of Isthmus of Panama. Today, the biogeography in Peru was heavily influenced by the past evolutionary biogeography of Gondwana and The Great American Interchange.
Montane grasslands and shrublands
One of the major biomes of Peru is the montane grasslands and shrublands biome. Of this biome, the main ecoregions which exist in the montane grasslands and shrublands biome of Peru are the wet and dry Central Andean puna’s, the Central Andean puna, and the Cordillera Central paramo. The Central Andean wet puna is located at the high elevations of the Andean Mountains. The ecoregion exists above 3500 metres which is higher than the tree line and experiences 400 – 700 mm of rain yearly (depending on elevation) with temperature ranging from 5 -7 Co. High mountains, lakes, valleys, and plateaus make up the landscape of the Central Andean wet puna ecoregion. Like the Central Andean wet puna, the Central Andean dry puna also occurs above the tree-line at around 3500 m. As the name suggests, the ecoregion is characterized by its low amounts of precipitation annually, totalling under 400 mm. However, the ecoregion also features mountains, valleys, high plateaus, lakes, and volcanic ranges. The Cordillera Central paramo ecoregion is also situated in the Andes Mountains. Roughly inhabiting an elevation of 3000 – 4500m, the ecoregion is cold (with temperatures dropping below freezing) and wet. The ecoregion lacks large trees and vegetation is dominated by grasses, shrub, lichens, and moss. Examples of the vegetation include Hypericum and Escallonia.
As mentioned, Peru is home to incredibly diverse biomes. Deserts make up the vast majority of Peru’s pacific coastline, with a total of two ecoregions within Peru’s deserts; the Sechura Desert and parts of the Atacama desert shared with bordering Chile. The two deserts are found west of the Andes mountain range and share very similar ecological and climatic characteristics, with precipitation being the main distinguishing factors between the two ecoregions. The coastal Sechura desert is found 20 to 100 km acting as a buffer zone until reaching the secondary ridges of the Andes mountain range. The Sechura’s climate is characterized by hot summers (avg. temperature of 25C) which functions as a 3 month window of rainfall (average precipitation of 20 mm over the 3 month period). On the other hand, its winters receive almost zero rainfall and an average temperature of 20C. Despite the lack of precipitation, fog acts as a moisturizing agent to the desert’s hills and ridges, thus supporting its vegetation. Overall plant cover is quite low in the Sechura, hence the dominant species include those that have adapted to arid conditions, such as herbs, beach greases, mesquite, and Tessaria.
Mangrove is an unique biome and typically found in tropics and subtropics intertidal coast and the mouth of river. The shrubs and trees in mangrove have adapted to the tidal water with higher salinity and salty, moist soil. Mangrove supports many species of birds, amphibiams, crustacea, and fish thrive in this unique ecosystem. There are two ecoregions of mangrove in Peru's northwest coast, Gulf of Guayaquil/Tumbes mangrove forests and Piúra mangroves.The Gulf of Guayaquil/Tumbes mangrove forests located between the border of Ecuador and Peru, with annual average temperature of 25°C semitropical climate, and the annual rainfall ranges from 100 to 300 mm. Piúra mangroves is the other major mangrove in Peru with a much smaller area than Tumbes mangrove. Located at the mouth of Piúra River and next to a desert region, Piúra mangroves's annual rainfall is less than 100mm, and annual average temperature is around 24°C. Today, the Peruvian government established a protected area, the National Sanctuary Manglares de Tumbes, within the Peruvian Tumbes mangrove forest .
One of the major ecoregions in Peru is the Peruvian Amazonia, a biome that compromises roughly 60% of the country’s landmass and is home to some of the world's richest biodiversity hotspots. The Peruvian Amazonia is also the birthplace of one of the biggest rivers in the world, with the Marañon and the Ucayali rivers intersecting and forming the Amazon River. Of this, there are a multitude of diverse ecoregions, including but not limited to, the Peruvian Yungas, Marañón dry forests, Eastern Cordillera Real montane forests, Iquitos Várzea, and many more.
We will focus on the Peruvian Yungas, a type of ecoregion that acts as a transitional area between many other ecoregions within this diverse biome. This ecoregion varies from a climate typical of a tropical rainforest to a subtropical highland climate, receiving anywhere from 500 - 2,000 millimeters annually. The Peruvian Yungas exist in “patches” between the elevations of 1,000m and 3,500m throughout the eastern slopes and valleys of the Peruvian Andes and cumulatively compromise around 18,712 hectares. At the more Northern altitudes above 2,500m of these regions usually have an average temperature of 6-12 degrees Celsius, while in Southern regions of the same altitude it's usually between 8022 degrees Celsius. In areas below 2,500m in altitude, the average temperature is more stable and sits at around 25 degrees Celsius.
Because Peru is home to so many different biomes and ecoregions, Peru is considered one of the most diverse ecologically diverse countries in the world with over 1,800 species of birds, 300 species of reptiles, and 500 species of mammals just to name a few. Peru also has 28 of the 32 climate regions in the world condensed into its landscape, meaning that there is a wide range of habitats for organisms to adapt to and flourish in, perhaps explaining the massive amount of biodiversity within the region. Tropical forest biomes cover over 60% of Peru’s terrestrial land, and many species dwelling within these areas are endemic to that specific geography. Furthermore, Peru is the traditional territory of over 50 different Indigenous populations, many of whom still practice traditional ways of living. Despite its many diverse biomes and ecosystem services, approximately only 15% of the terrestrial landscape in Peru is protected by the government, and deforestation is one of the biggest threats to the unique and diverse ecoregions and the organisms that rely on them.
Montane grasslands and shrublands
Due to the differing elevations and precipitation levels of the ecoregions within the montane grasslands and shrublands biome, high levels of biodiversity exist. Ecoregion's such as the central andean wet puna experience higher levels of biodiversity than the dry puna as areas with more precipitation typically experience higher plant biodiversity. The central andean wet puna is full of communities of bunchgrass, small trees, small shrubs, wetlands, and herbaceous plants . Mammals in the area include camelids, llamas, bats, and foxes . The central andean dry puna experiences lower levels of biodiversity due to its high elevation and lower precipitation levels. Species in this ecoregion have adapted to the high elevations. Fauna exists at lower elevations and consist of birds such as the Cochabamba mountain-finch, amphibians, camelids, and llamas. Flora at lower elevations typically come in the form of grasses such as the Calamogrostis. At extremely high elevation (over 4000m) vegetation only comes in the form of cushion bogs . The Cordillera central paramo region is also located at a high elevation but is home to a large amount of plants above the tree-line. Above the tree-line, cushion plants, tussock grasses, and shrubs. Lower elevations are inhabited by montane cloud forests with vegetation such as the Hypericum and Agrostis. Fauna in this region consist of the spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus), small-eared shrews (genus Cryptotis), and many other mammals, birds, and amphibians .
One key biogeographical factor that needs to be considered when Peru's deserts is the presence of the Andes mountains. With that being said, the Andes mountains were formed approximately six to ten million years ago during the Miocene through tectonic activity. This meant the oceanic Nazca plate subjected under the continental South American plate, thus leading to mountain uplift and the creation of the Andes Mountain range. The setting of the Andes mountain range played a crucial role in the formation of the Peruvian coastal deserts, with both the Sechura and the Atacama owing their aridity and climatic conditions to atmospheric interactions between the ocean and the mountains. One of the prevailing phenomena explaining the deserts' formations is the rainshadow phenomenon. Here, the prevailing southeast trade winds transport moist and cold air from the Atlantic Ocean across the continent of South America until they reach the Andes mountain range, where the wind is cooled and condensed on the eastern side of the Andes. This leads to precipitation on the windward slopes, whereas the western side of the Andes (leeward side) are characterized by high-pressure conditions where descending air gets warmer and drier, thus leading to an arid climate where the coastal deserts find themselves in a rainshadow. Over long periods of time, this aridity leads to the formation of deserts, thus allowing the Atacama-Sechura to being classified as some of the driest places on the planet.
Although the Atacama-Sechura is known as one of the driest places on earth, there is certainly climatic diversity within its various regions, with the regions being categorized into semiarid (≤250 mm/y rainfall) , arid (≤50 mm/y rainfall), and hyperarid (≤5 mm/y rainfall) climates. Based on geology, the presence of semiarid conditions developed 150 Million years ago during the Jurassic period, followed by arid conditions developing 33 Million years ago in the Ogliocene, and finally the arrival of hyperarid conditions in the Miocene 8 Million years ago. This has led to evolutionary lag times in which different clades of species were found to have colonized regions of the desert based on the onset of suitable climatic conditions. In other words, temporal transitions in climatic conditions led to the onset of different plants and animals over time.
With the vast majority of climatic conditions being classified as arid, most plants found in the Atacama-Sechura are adapted to low rainfall. In the Atacama desert, steep slopes found on the coast near the pacific ocean are able to intercept clouds, thus creating a fog zone among the slopes. The moisture available in these fog zones allows for the prevalence of short-lived perennial and woody scrub vegetation, such as fern, gymnosperm, and bromeliads. Despite the fact that the Atacama's flora is characterized by sporadic blooming events restricted to the foggy regions along the coast, the regions is packed with a wealth of endemic plants, with over 60% of the desert's 550 plant specie classified as endemic. The regions further inland are more arid, hence they are characterized by vast sand dunes and an absolute lack of vegetation. The presence of fauna in the Atacama is also quite sparse, with the few animals present being scorpions, insects and arachnids, whom are the prey of birds, reptiles, and mammals. The most common of such species are foxes, chinchilla, Darwin's leaf-eared mouse, sparrows, lizards, and llamas. Similarly, the Sechura's coastal desert setting allows for remarkably similar conditions as well as physiognomy when comparing it to the Atacama. The fog is able to bring moisture to vegetation on the coastal hills and valleys near the shoreline, supporting the presence of willows, beach grass, Tessaria spp., and evergreen trees. More inland, the Sechura is home to carob trees, mesquite, and cacti. Having adapted to very arid conditions, the Sechuran Fox is the Sechura's flagship species, preying primarily on rodents, insects, and reptiles, such as the Peruvian plantcutter, Peru Pacific Iguana, and the gerbil leaf-eared mouse.
Peruvian mangrove ecosystem has many common and endemic species. There are various aquatic species, birds, rare and threatened mammals, and plants in Manglares de Tumbes National Sanctuary. In the Tumbes mangroves, There are a total of 148 birds species, 105 fish species, 34 crustaceans species , 33 snails species, 24 mollusks species, and some mammal species. The two rare and well-known mammal species are the crab-eating raccoon (Procyon cancrivorus) and the neotropical otter (Lutra longicaudis). A total of five mangroves species have been identified, and they are red mangrove sweep (Rhizophora mangle and Rizophora harrisonii), salty mangrove sweep (Avicennia germionans), white mangrove (Laguncu araia racemasa) and mangle boton (Conocarpus erectus).
In Piúra mangroves, besides the commonly found black, white, red, and tea mangroves, there is one endemic mangrove species, Mora oleifera.
The Peruvian Amazonia covers around 60% of the total terrestrial landmass in the country, and as previously mentioned, is considered one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, housing millions of different flora and fauna. The ability for the Peruvian Amazonia to host so many different species is thanks to its relatively stable climate year round (as a result of being located so close to the equator), and its varying elevations mean that populations can adapt and specialize throughout its many differing ecoregions. Many of the organisms within the Peruvian Amazonia are adapted to a wide variety of conditions, with some being specialized to hot and humid conditions of the lowland jungles and Amazon River basin, while others are adapted to the cooler arid conditions pertaining to the highland jungles and surrounding ecoregions.
The Peruvian Amazon has the largest known number of bird species on record, with an estimated 806 known bird species residing in the Peruvian Amazonia alone, and is also home to many different types of organisms as well, ranging from 262 species of amphibians to 700 different species of ferns. Approximately 3,940 endemic species that call the Peruvian Amazonia home are also considered threatened. The Peruvian Amazon is also home to over half the world’s species of plants, animals, and insects, with the number of species present in this area ranging well into the millions. The Peruvian Amazonia is also home to the headwaters of the Amazon River, with the three Peruvian rivers (the Marañón, the Apurímac, and the Mantaro rivers)
The Peruvian Amazonia covers around 60% of the total terrestrial landmass in the country, and as previously mentioned, is considered one of the most biodiverse places on the planet. Peru has the largest known number of bird species on record, with an estimated 806 known bird species residing in the Peruvian Amazonia alone. Peru is also home to many different types of organisms as well, ranging from fish to insects to ferns. converging within the Andes and becoming the Amazon River. These headwaters are home to 697 species of fish alone, and the surrounding environment being home to 180 species of reptiles, and 293 species of mammals.
Humans have a long history of shaping their landscapes across the globe, and that holds especially true for the region of Peru. Prior to colonization, Peru was home (and still is home) to a multitude of Indigenous populations each with their own distinct culture and language, and they lived quite harmoniously within their adaptive landscapes. Colonization had a massive impact on the region, not just on the people, but on the land, too. Many traditional land stewardship practices had been altered to accommodate colonial entities, and the land bears the evidence of it in many ways. Today, we can acknowledge the land and cultural histories that have shaped Peru (from agricultural cultivation and practices) to the advancement of technology and extraction of resources (logging, mining, etc).
Montane grasslands and shrublands
Similar to the rest of the world, ecosystems in this area have been impacted by the presence of humans. However, the impacts are not equally felt in all ecosystems. The cordilleran central paramo is listed as "Relatively Stable/Intact" by the World Wildlife Fund. Although the area is home to settlements and agriculture, the isolation of the area has limited damage done by humans. Future growth in the agricultural sector present threats to the ecoregion . Due to its high elevation and harsh climate, the central Andean puna ecoregion is also quite isolated from humans. Approximately 18.65% of the land in the ecoregion is protected area . Although it is isolated, the ecoregion still faces issues stemming from human influences. Livestock grazing and land clearing has negatively impacted food cycles and destroyed the homes of the species living in the area. Mining in the region has also led to contaminated soils and water . The central andean wet puna also provides inhabitants with a harsh climate to endure. Similar to the other ecoregion, agricultural grazing and habitat loss has destroyed ecosystems and eroded soils. Mining activities are also present in the area leading to further contaminated water and soils .
Tumbes, Peru was a traditional land for a ancient indigenous group, Tumpis, in the pre-Spanish era. Tumbes was an important political center of the Inca Empire. The Pan-American Highway was connected Tumbes to Lima, the capital city. The indigenous group, Chimú, inhabited in Tumbes and Piura regeions and practices agriculture, hunting, fishing, and trading for centuries . Today, about a third of Tumbes is covered by the protected areas, include Cerros de Amotape National Park, Reserved Zone de Tumbes, and The Mangrove Sanctuary de Tumbes . The major cultivated crops are corn (maize), tobacco, rice, and cotton. The fishing and tourism industry is the major income for the Tumbes region. The mangrove is rich in economic resources for the fishing industry and is highly productive. There are numerous shrimp farms nearby the sanctuary and a few populated towns. The residents of the traditional community, Los Walingos, depend on the fishing activities at Mangroves for living, and after the buffer zone was established, they continue to occupy some of the areas for fishery resources. The traditional community is hoping to gain recognition from the authority to have the right to utilize the resources and seek land protection.
It is worth mentioning that the Atacama desert stretches from Peru to Chile. Due to the fact that the national borders of Peru have only relevant when referring to contemporary history, human influences in the Chilean part of the Atacama desert will be mentioned in this portion as well. Studies show that the Atacama has been inhabited by humans up to 6 000 years ago, with evidence of human activity in the region dating back to 10 000 years ago. The Atacama has been historically and continuously inhabited by the Atacameños; the Indigenous peoples of the Atacama desert. These peoples were part of a larger Indigenous polity known as the Tiwanaku that reined from 600 to 1000 AD. These Indigenous peoples have practiced agriculture in the desert for thousands of years, and were able to employ sophisticated irrigation systems such as terraces and Qocha. This is seen in the Atacaman village of Tocain, where the inhabitants built a man-made oasis that was created as a result of the terraces and irrigation systems that flow channels of water from Andean springs at higher elevations. By anthroprogenically "turning the desert green", the farmers of the Atacama grew non-endemic crop such as corn, beans, cotton, pumpkin, and potatoes. Note that these practices are still seen to this very day as many Atacaman communities are dependent on Agriculture. Further, the economies of the Tiwanaku polity and subsequent Indigenous civilizations were dependent on herding animals situated around a much more fertile area; lake titicaca. The presence of agriculture and arable land to support the herds of camelids led to llamas finding a permanent habitat in the desert over time.
Fast forward past the Spanish colonial conquests and Chilean independence, the war of the Pacific in 1879 formally declared new borders between Peru and Chile, with the majority of the Atacama desert and Indigenous Atacameños being situated in what is now known today as Chile. Modern human influences can be characterized to have played a far less significant role in shaping the ecology of the region. Instead, they have led to the destruction of ecology in the region and the extinction of endemic species. Since the 19th century, the main culprit behind such ecosystem destruction has been mining, with the Atacama holding rich deposits in gold, silver, copper, lithium, salts and iron. Although mining in itself directly leads to habitat destruction, the case of habitat destruction in the Atacama is more closely linked to the massive amounts of water needed for mining activities. Take the river Loa as an example, where two thirds of the river were reassigned for industrial use in the 1980's. This eventually led to the extinction of dependent species such as freshwater shrimp and other animals.
The Amazon Rainforest is traditionally home to hundreds of different Indigenous communities, many of whom were wiped out or assimilated under Spanish colonization during the last half of the previous century. There are still many Indigenous communities that live across the Amazon rainforest, with the Peruvian Amazonia region alone classifying 65 distinct ethnic groups with 16 distinct language families. To this day, Peru is home to one of the world's highest concentrations of uncontacted Indigenous communities in the world, many of whom still uphold traditional cultural practices and beliefs.
Prior to colonization, Indigenous people lived in tandem with the Amazonia landscape, with communities living sustainably for thousands of years and causing no detectible anthropocentric changes to the landscapes they resided on. Indigenous people participated in small-scale agricultural practices and human management systems, such as controlled burns that had little to no impact on local biodiversity and ecosystem functionality, with some practices actually being beneficial to the local environment (such as encouraging the growth of specific trees within a region.
The aftermath of colonization changed this, however, as the demand for the resources found within the Peruvian Amazonia by colonial empires gave rise to many destructive and exploitative land practices that are still ongoing today. The attempted eradication of Indigenous culture and systems of knowledge affected the health of the ecosystems in the same way removing a keystone species would. Colonial ignorance and desire for natural resources such as lumber and precious metals meant that many unsustainable extracivist projects ran rampant in the latter half of the 20th century, impacting both Indigenous ways of life and the Peruvian Amazonia in a severe way.
Because of its geographical location and underdevelopment (from a Western standpoint), Peru is one of the most resource-rich places in South America. Because of this, Peru is faced with a particular set of threats that impact its ecological landscape due to extractive industries such as mining, oil and gas extraction, deforestation, as well as continued colonialization, political discourse, and more. Many of these issues are further exasperated due to the effects of climate change, hence why it is important to understand the complexities of these issues so that they may be better mitigated in the coming future.
As mentioned earlier, mining activities throughout the Atacama desert are especially threatening to animal, plant, and human life. This is mainly due to the fact that mining is characterized by habitat destruction, habitat fragmentation, and a diversion of water use in an already hyperarid envrionment. In Peru's Tacna region of the Atacama desert, there are a total of 134 mines that are currently active , with the majority of them being copper, lead, zinc, and silver mines. Many of these mines are open-pit mines which are known fro adverse environmental impacts such as habitat destruction, such as the Toquepala copper mine on the western slope of Andes. What makes such mines especially threatening is that they are often situated at elevations in between the desert and the mountains, thus threatening the habitats and species situated in both ecosystems. In Chile's larger portion of the Atacama desert, lithium mining in the Atacama salt flats has caused extensive habitat degradation especially as operations expand in light of lithium's use in Electric Vehicle batteries that are crucial for transitions from fossil fuels. One example of the Lithium mining operations' effects on biodiversity can be seen with the declining numbers of Pink Flamingo in the Atacama, with the population having declined by 12% in the last 10 years. This trend is strongly linked to the mines' water usage and diversion, where water is extracted in order pump up brine filled with lithium. These flamingos are crucial when it comes to ecosystem health, as they regulate the system though their consumption of plankton, crustaceans and microorganisms. A reduction in their numbers leads to trophic cascade, which would cause damaging bacterial blooms in the water in the absence of flamingos.
Peru's Sechura desert's biodiversity is also threatened by mining through the pollution of water bodies in the desert's valleys and wetlands, however agriculture has demonstrated to be a threat as well. There is a large presence of agriculture on the northern and coastal hills of the Sechura such as livestock feed which has led to widespread overgrazing from goats. Similarly to mining, wetlands dried out for agriculture, negatively impacting ecosystem health as a result of the lack of water. The presence of agriculture infers the availability of small livestock for the Sechuran Fox to prey on has also led to farmers hunting the Fox. Today, due to hunting and habitat loss to agriculture, the animal is now near-threatened with less than 15 000 left in the wild.
Montane grasslands and shrublands
Similar to the other biomes, ecoregions existing within the montane grasslands and shrublands biome are threatened by increased agriculture and mining activities. Although there are many parts of the biome which are protected region, these areas are not enough to mitigate the rapid human expansion and industrialization in the area. Mining activities pollute water sources and present risks to the aquatic species in the area. Farming and grazing have eroded soils leading to degraded vegetation levels in the area. Alongside the lack of fertility, high levels of soil erosion have been linked to increased sedimentation and pollution within bodies of water which can impact aquatic species. In addition to this, eroded soils can increase the threats of flooding.
One of the major threats to the Peruvian mangroves is the shrimp farmers who deforested the mangrove forests and contaminated the local aquatic ecosystem. The other threats include over-fishing and anthropogenic pollution. The untreated sewage from the nearby human village and industrial activities endangered the mangroves ecosystem. The local residents are also affected by the resource extractors, i.e. shrimp farmers, because the mangroves provide the resource for their everyday life. The local residents or small fishermen had called for more effective mangroves protection from the industry, but it involved many conflicts of interest.
Deforestation is one of the biggest threats to the Peruvian Amazonia, with both large and small-scale endeavors contributing to the problem. Deforestation in the Peruvian Amazonia is a complex problem to tackle because while it’s partly driven by logging (with upwards of 60% of Peruvian timber exports being illegally sourced), it’s more often times a consequential result of other extractive activities such as agriculture, mining, oil and gas extraction, and even drug trafficking. An estimated 354,410 acres of Peruvian Rainforest are believed to have been lost in the year 2017, and with recent economic and industrial advancement, this number is estimated to grow even higher as the production and demand increase.
Agriculture and mining are two of the biggest drivers of deforestation in the Peruvian Amazonia, with 43% of Peru’s total agricultural area being located in the Amazon basin alone in 2018, 56% of which was directly linked to forest loss from the year 2001-2017. Most of the agricultural practices that contribute to this problem are oil palm and cacao plantations, but mining is also responsible for a significant reduction in forest range in Peru. Illegal gold mining in particular is a huge driver of deforestation due to the use of destructive open-pit mining practices, but it also poses serious health risks to communities and surrounding ecosystems due to the leeching of toxic chemicals and waste as observed in the declaration of a state of emergency by the Peruvian government in 2016.
As a result of extractive and exploitative industries and destructive land management, there has been a significant loss in biodiversity, paired with a sharp increase in threatened species within the Peruvian Amazonia according to the IUCN Red List. This is largely due to habitat loss from deforestation as a result of agricultural and industrial expansion. Furthermore, deforestation comes at the cost of reducing the ecosystem to recycle and store carbon, further exasperating issues pertaining to climate change. Indigenous groups are also at an increased risk as these industries encroach on their traditional territory, with many Indigenous land defenders and water protectors often facing violence and impacts to their ways of life at the hands of continued colonization through extractivism.
Similar to many other countries in the Tropics, conservation projects a regularly introduced in Peru. Major conservation projects in Peru are focused around protecting the rainforests and increasing biodiversity. In 2021, Peru signed a joint agreement with the United States, Germany, Norway, and the UK which protects rainforest and Indigenous lands and will install imporoved policies and instrumentation in the country . Furthermore, the government declared a national climate emergency and pledged to lower GHG emissions by 40% by 2030 and be completly carbon neutral by 2050 .
The Extreme E & Antotofagasta Minerals Loa Water Frog Conseration & Habitat Re-introduction Project
Within the Atacama Desert, a project was launched as a part of a corporate social responsibility strategy by Antofagasta minerals and extreme E; an international professional electric vehicle racing league. As the names suggest, the two organizations are involved with lithium, whether it is the mining company that extracts large amounts from the Atacama, or the international racing league, who's cars run strictly on electric vehicle batteries. With that said, there is no doubt that this conservation project is rooted in corporate social responsibility in order to "make up" for all the harms their operations caused to biodiversity in the Atacama desert.
The reasons why the Loa Water Frog was chosen in particular is because it is a critically endangered species endemic to the Loa River of the Atacama desert. As highlighted by both Indigenous leaders and conservationists, its populations have faced a dramatic downturn as a result of mining, which led to massive pollution of its habitat. Moreover, as previously mentioned, mining leads to drainage of wetlands and rivers in the Atacama, hence the Loa Water found itself with a smaller habitat range. The conservation team mentioned that another reason why the frog was chosen was that ecosystem was a very delicate one, thus any further decline in biodiversity would allow to a complete breakdown of the food web as well as reduced ecosystem services. This is especially relevant to the frogs since they are keystone species in their habitats that play an important role in pest control and food chain regulation in both aquatic and terrestrial environments.
In 2019, there was a total of only 74 Loa frogs found in the Loa River. As a result of this, the team of ecologists rescued a total of 60 of them, 14 of which were taken to Chilean National Zoo as part of a largescale rehabilitation program that increased the population to 600. Today, the frogs still remain in the rehabilitation program at the National Zoo in Santiago, while the Ojos de Opache habitat is currently undergoing intense cleaning to rid it of all pollutants. The ecologists chose the Ojos de Opache habitat for the re-introduction phase, which will eventually be led under a conservation program that will seek to expand the species' habitat range all over the Loa River of the Atacama. Note that this stage has not yet been reached.
Montane grasslands and shrublands
Huascarán National Park
Many of the conservation projects within the Montange grasslands and shrublands biome involves protecting the areas by declaring them national parks. Approximately 20 percent of the central andean puna ecoregion is a protected area and approximately 16 percent of the central paramo ecoregion is also a protected area. The Huascarán National Park is located within the central paramo ecoregion and is the higher tropical mountain range in the world. Prior to being designated a protected area in 1975, the area saw the overhunting of camelid species and the loss of Andean Queen populations leading to concern over the management of the area. When being designated a protected area in 1975, the Vicuna camelid population increased from 6000 (prior to the designation), to present day populations of 350000. The strategies of designating national parks and protection of the Vicuna camelid protection remain controversial. in 1967, Peru established a conservation project called, Pampa Galeras National Vicuña Reserve, which aimed to protect Vicuna populations through the use of armed guards . Both the protection of camelid populations and the designation of national parks also raise questions regarding Indigenous land claims. Conflicts have occurred between Indigenous groups and the Peruvian government over ancestral land claims and modern day usage. As seen around the world, Indigenous lands are arguably more effective at conservation as opposed to strictly protected lands. In addition to this, lands which are a mix of indigenous and protected lands are even more beneficial for conservation purposes while still allowing for Indigenous land claims to be honoured.
Manglares de Tumbes National Sanctuary
Peru's largest mangrove ecoregion, Gulf of Guayaquil/Tumbes mangrove, is a national sanctuary, Manglares de Tumbes National Sanctuary. The documented total area of Gulf of Guayaquil/Tumbes mangrove in 1982 was 5,964 ha and shrunk into 4,540 ha after ten years. The ecosystem was facing economic exploitation and destruction, so the sanctuary was established on March 2, 1988, after groups of organizations promoted ecosystem protection. On December 12, 2001, the area surrounding Manglares de Tumbes National Sanctuary was settled as buffer zones. The authority that is managing the sanctuaries and protected areas are the National Institute of Natural Resources and Protected Areas Management (INRENA) under the Ministry of Agriculture. However, until this day, there are still conflicts happening between the residents and resource extractors. Although the government aims to set up an promote protective measures and improve tourism industry, the public and the citizens are not aware of the regional environment protection. There is not much current condition of protected area information available, and the management seems quite lacking after a few researchers visit the protected areas. The total wetland areas in Northern Peru are far larger than the current protective areas, but Seminario-Córdova et al. found the general wetlands lack study and not implementing any protective measurement except a few protected areas and sanctuaries. Moreover, the rangers that are in charge of monitoring the protected areas and sanctuary are voluntary, the visitors found that did not even have appropriate equipment like a wireless radio. Looking at all these, we cannot be sure how effective the conservation measure is, and the total area of wetlands in northern Peru may be continuing to shrink. The information online is also very limited. It is difficult to access how well the mangrove ecosystem conservation is doing at the current moment.
REDD+ Initiatives in the Peruvian Amazonia
REDD+ (or Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) is a framework built by the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP) that attempts to support developing nations in the practice of sustainable forest management by offering resources and funding to alleviate human pressures on the environment in order to reduce carbon emissions stemming from deforestation. The implementation of REDD+ is entirely voluntary, meaning that there’s no obligation for nations to adapt REDD+ into their regulations around forest resource management strategies, but the incentives provided aim to encourage nations and industries to invest in the protection and preservation of local forested environments through political and economic safeguards.
Unfortunately, REDD+ hasn’t been as successful as hoped due to the slower-than-anticipated phase of implementation, especially in Peru, due to economic and political complexities and discourse, and there is a push for national governments to clarify tenure and strengthen it at the local level. Many REDD+ logging initiatives, for example, often find themselves outcompeted by rampant illegal logging due to their ability to sell timber products at a lower market price, and low-income communities are less likely to integrate REDD+ due to its initial upfront investment and complex implementation process. Slow and limited funding negatively impacted the results of communities attempting to implement REDD+, with forest cover and income of involved people not showing any significant difference from non-involved parties. There is a call for greater transparency, better engagement with Indigenous and rural communities, and better emphasis on restorative projects as well as strengthening conservation initiatives if REDD+ is to progress forward. That being said, there have been at least 35 early REDD+ initiatives in the Peruvian Amazonia since 2008, and with the recent pledge by the Peruvian government to reduce greenhouse emissions by 30% by 2030, many communities are looking to integrate REDD+ initiatives at a larger scale in a quicker manner that better address the social and economic shortcomings of the program previously.
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