In the highlands of the Amazon region, the Corosha campesina (peasant) community zealously protects 2,282, 12 hectares of montane forest that is a refuge for numerous rare and highly threatened species such as orchids, ferns, puma, yellow-tailed woolly monkey, toucan, and more. In 2011, the Ministry of the Environment made the conservation area official under the name of Private Conservation Area (ACP) Communal “Hierba Buena Allpayacu.”

Since then, the Corosha community has developed different sustainable livelihood activities, hand in hand with the Yunkawasi team, a Peruvian foundation that promotes research and environmental conservation projects. Yunkawasi’s projects improve communities’ ability to conserve their environments, biodiversity, and ecosystem services while generating sustainable sources of income. As a result, tourist activity has had a significant increase in recent years and has become a critical pillar of the local economy since it provides various employment opportunities from becoming local tourism guides to artisan crafts making.

The growth of ecotourism prompted the creation of a small committee of artisans, currently made up of 10 women, who make crocheted stuffed animals of the representative fauna of the ACP, such as the golden spectacled bear and the yellow-tailed woolly monkey, as well as a committee of local guides who know the landscapes and their biodiversity better than anyone else. However, the need to diversify the products offered to visitors and improve the guide service using cutting-edge tools encouraged the Corosha community to apply for funding to support these sustainable entrepreneurs. So in June of this year, these two teams each applied to the “Misunku” Seed Capital Fund, a contest that seeks to promote, support and accelerate innovative ventures that contribute to the development of the Amazon region.

To the joy of the community, both initiatives were awarded support from the Misunku Fund and have since begun implementation of the work plan through workshops.

Rejuvenating traditional artisan practices

The artisans of Corosha submitted a proposal with a goal of rescuing the ancestral knowledge of the handling of cotton and sheep’s wool, knowledge that was being lost generation after generation. The proposal also sought to diversify the crafts and offer experiential experiences to visitors when tourism resumes. The COVID-19 pandemic created incentives to move from local sales to the virtual market, for which funding is also needed. 

The women have held three meetings so far: first, they acquired three fleeces of sheep’s wool and in the first workshop they learned to wash the wool. They then carried out the techniques of scarmenado and tishana, (cleaning and carding the wool,) led by the older women. At the last meeting, they spun the wool with traditional tools such as the pushka (spinning wheel). The women are very enthusiastic about practicing these spinning techniques and restoring this ritual which was being forgotten in the community. 

Strengthening capacity for ecotourism

The committee of tourism guides from the Corosha community presented a separate proposal to create internships in protected natural areas and to equip themselves with tools and skills to offer better guide service when tourism is active again.

The local guides had their first workshop in which they received the necessary training to carry out a patrol, to use tools like a GPS for monitoring fauna, and to record any threatened species they come across during a tour. Soon, the team of guides hopes to do an internship at the ACP Hierba Buena Allpayacu to put everything they have learned into practice.

Supporting the development of these sustainable economic activities empowers peasant communities to conserve and manage their natural resources. The work Corosha is doing should be taken as an example of how to carry out conservation action without hindering local development or livelihoods. On the contrary, these economic initiatives greatly improve the quality of life for people living in campesino communities like Corosha.

Want to know more about RP’s partnership with the Corosha community? Read our blog “Children in Corosha Participate in World Rainforest Day through “Nature Stories” Contest!”