The Jardines Ángel del Sol VCA is found in a remote forested area located in the San Martin department, in northeastern Perú. The area was firstly populated by in the 1980s by migrant farmers from the highland provinces, which had to migrate because of land scarcity and the expansion of mining. These farmers settled into the area as there was plenty of free, fertile land available, which was ideal for the cultivation of coffee. Originally, the land was covered by primary forest, that was cleared for agricultural purposes. As a result, considerable areas of forest were cleared and wildlife started to disappear.
APALP (Asociacion de Productores Agropecuarios de La Primavera) (Association of Producers of La Primavera), a small local association of coffee farmers decided to respond to the environmental impacts that they were witnessing and started their own conservation initiative to protect the remaining forests. With the support of NPC, (Neotropical Primate Conservation) APALP managed to become responsible of protecting an area of 7174 hectares of primary forest, in an arrangement with the Peruvian government known as Concession for Conservation.
The Concession for Conservation Jardines Ángel del Sol and the smallholdings of APALP (the association that protects the area) are geographically located in the San Martin department but are politically administered by the Amazonas department, due to access issues. These weak territorial boundaries add to the lack of state support in the area and this is why the local association of farmers decided to protect the valuable forests as their own local initiative. Additionally, the weak boundaries also limit access to funding from NGOs or government support for rural development and conservation, as the Amazonas authorities don't want to support conservation in an area located in San Martín.
Even though the association is doing great efforts to protect the concession, by organizing non-remunerated patrol groups along the boundaries of the concession, their technical and financial resources to protect such a large area of forests are limited. The area is also vulnerable to the threats from agricultural expansion, and moreover, the Peruvian government can decide to reassign the land to other actors for other (extractive purposes). This is why this area and the local association that is protecting it, need international recognition.
VCA Gold status thus fits a variety of purposes and local needs. The VCA consists of the protected area Jardines Ángel del Sol (7174 ha) and the coffee smallholdings of the farmers of the Asociatión (about 276.5 ha). The concession is covered entirely by primary forest and hosts a high number of endemic species of the region. Part of the smallholdings are planted with coffee, another part is covered by primary or secondary forest and there is also some grassland for cattle raising.
This VCA is managed by the Asociación de Productores Agropecuarios La Primavera in the San Martin department. The Asociación is the legal management authority for the proposed VCA. Jose Norbil Fernandez Mejia is the manager of the proposed VCA. The Association has 30 members which comprises about 10 percent of all the coffee farms of the Paujil stream area and focusses on organic coffee production. The intention is that over time more farmers will join the Asociación and the VCA area increases slowly.
The association, made up of 30 members, consists of organic coffee farmers that jointly manage the protected area and individually have their coffee farms in the valley of the Río Huayabamba.
Conservation actions taking place include:
- Guarding the protected area including the watershed that provides water for the coffee plantations with regular patrols..
- Producing organic coffee (wildlife friendly with no pesticide or insecticide use).
- Managing the plantations for biodiversity conservation.
- Awareness raising among the surrounding population on the importance of healthy environment and biodiversity.
- Planting indigenous tree species.