By Camille Cater

One of the multiple rivers that feeds the cloud forest. Colibri Cloudforest Region

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has developed an exciting new set of tools to assess the ecosystem services within important areas for biodiversity and conservation. What are ecosystem services? Ecosystem services are the broad range of benefits that properly functioning ecosystems provide for people including clean water, food production, carbon storage, as well as recreation, and sources of income. The assessment tools created by the IUCN will aid in the creation of Key Biodiversity Areas, natural World Heritage Sites, and protected areas.

Protected areas are “dedicated spaces which are clearly defined geographically, and are recognized and managed through legal and other effective means.” The IUCN states that designating new protected areas is crucial to the security of ecosystem services for humans to account for the substantial loss and degradation of nature worldwide.

Quantifying the ecosystem services within a protected area can be challenging for practitioners because of the number and variety of assessment tools developed in recent years. But the new guide developed by the IUCN makes selecting the right tools for the assessment much simpler by tailoring the process to the available resources, goals, and needs of the practitioner.

This guide, including an online decision making apparatus where you can learn more about ecosystem services and available measurement tools, will help practitioners unlock information about protected areas and help decision-makers justify the importance of conserving them.

To get a better idea for the plethora of protected areas around the world and why they are so important to preserve, explore this page on the IUCN website. This site contains an interactive map of all of the natural World Heritage sites on the globe and the various benefits they hold. These benefits range from environmental services, cultural and spiritual values, food, water, and knowledge. Click on a natural World Heritage site on the map and you’ll find a detailed summary of the history, present state, and future outlook of the site. You’ll see from this website just how many protected areas there are around the world and how they benefit our environmental, economic, and cultural wellbeing.

Knowing which benefits lay within an ecosystem is the first step to protecting it. That’s why Rainforest Partnership is working with researcher Sean McHugh and documentarian Jaz McKibben to conduct the first ever mammal survey in the Colibri Cloudforest in central Peru. The data collected from thirty research camera stations will support the creation of a new Regional Conservation Area in the Bosque de Nubes de Toldopampa in Peru. This information will be extremely helpful for the regional government, which has no previous data on the animals that exist in this area, in creating a protected area and preserving this cloud forest.

If you want to contribute to this ground-breaking research in the Colibri Cloudforest and help preserve ecosystem services for humankind for generations to come, you can sponsor a research camera! Go to Rainforest Partnership’s website to learn more about how you can sponsor a camera and raise money for this project, and receive exclusive pictures and footage from your camera every week. Unveil the cloudforest with us!

The magical cloud forest in Colibri Region