Building a Friendlier Highway through Peru
Numerous countries in South America are making huge investments in new infrastructure. As there is no progress without consequence, these roads and bridges, pipelines and power lines are changing the economic, social, and ecological face of the continent. Natural areas, as well as important archeological sites and numerous indigenous communities that were previously isolated, are suddenly coming into intense, new contact with the modern world.
One example of new infrastructure is the Inter-Oceanic Highway, linking western Brazil with Pacific ports in southern Peru. Much of the highway route, which snakes through Amazonian lowland forest, then up over the Andes, already had small rural roads, some of which were the most bone-jarring in all of southern Peru. Today, a modern two- to four-lane highway is under construction.
With support from the Blue Moon Fund, NatureServe scientists are working with local partners in Peru’s Departments of Madre de Dios and Cuzco to build local capacity for land use planning. NatureServe provides training in the use of technical software tools, including NatureServe Vista, to two planning teams that include staff and partners from each regional government. At the same time, NatureServe is supporting field biologists who survey for endemic plant and animal species.
The project builds on regional efforts to map ecosystem types and endemic species distributions across Peru and Bolivia. The teams are using NatureServe software to integrate mapped information on biodiversity, cultural resources, and economic potential in order to explore their options for land use and resource conservation.
This region is home to numerous bird and plant species found nowhere else in the world, as well as human communities whose cultural traditions date back centuries. As regional governments maximize the economic and social benefits of the new highway, NatureServe is helping them ensure a smooth road into the future for these sensitive natural and cultural resources as well.