The community of Chipaota is located in the upper Amazon basin adjoining the northwestern border of Cordillera Azul National Park in Northern Peru.
The Mushuk Llacta de Chipaota (Chipaota) community belong to a Quechaun ethnic group known as Lamista, who represent a unique portion of Peru’s indigenous population. The community consists of 130 families and about 1,200 people.
The unsustainable harvesting and overexploitation of the Piassaba palm species (Aphandra natalia) led to reduction in their population.
We have established new methods to sustainably harvest the Piassaba palm fibers and helped create Ecomusa, a community-owned business, through which members can sell both the fibers and brooms made from the fibers, a value added product.
The indigenous community of Chipaota is located in the upper Amazon basin adjoining the northwestern border of Cordillera Azul National Park in Northern Peru. The community comes under the district of Chazuta in the San Martín Province. The local population is predominantly Lamista, a Quechuan ethnic group that represents a unique portion of Peru’s indigenous population.
The Piassaba Palm, a 30-foot palm is an endemic species found in this region. For the community of Chipaota, the palm fiber extraction was economically viable and already a part of the local culture but it was also unsustainable, requiring the cutting down of entire trees in order to access the fibers. At the original rate and with the unsustainable methods that the community of Chipaota used for harvesting, it would have taken approximately 30 years for the forest to be restored and would have created negative impact on the biodiversity of the rainforest ecosystem.
We began working with the community of Chipaota in 2008, when each party signed a formal agreement to protect the community’s rainforest and restore the Piassaba palm population in this area. The community worked with the RP team to map the location of the 65,000 existing Piassaba palms in the forest. A comprehensive forest management plan was developed to include a sustainable method to extract the fibers of the Piassaba palm, that no longer required the entire palm to be cut down. This has allowed for the legal harvesting of the palm fibers and the conservation of 8,898 acres of forest
The 5-year management plan which has been approved twice, in 2009 and 2015 continues to be promoted as a model for sustainable development to be replicated in other forest communities, by the local government.
We helped 40 families from the community to create Ecomusa, a community-owned business which produces and markets brooms from the fiber. Compared to simply selling the Piassaba palm’s raw fibers in the nearby towns, selling the brooms can bring in more than 2.5 times the income. Over the last several years, we have continued to work with Ecomusa to further develop the business skills of the members, raise environmental awareness and help protect the population of the piassaba palm species.
Hold meetings and conduct workshops to strengthen Ecomusa group
Conduct regular forest patrols and improve the self-defence committee
Implement the management plan and timelines for Piassaba harvests and commercialization
Review and upgrade the machinery used for making brooms
Obtaining permission from the Regional Authority to come up with a technical management plan for using Bolaina (Gauzuma crinita) plant species in Chipaota, which is used for making the handles of brooms.
Develop a Regional Piassaba management committee
The Cordillera Azul National Park is home to 4,000 to 6,000 plant species, more than 500 bird species, over 80 reptile and amphibian species, and more than 70 kinds of mammals.