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GTZ - Country Megadiverse
Peru is the third largest country in South America, after Brazil and Argentina, possessing an area of 1,285,216 km2 and a coastline that stretches for 3079.5 km. Split in two by the Andes Mountains, Peru's complex geography is home to 28 million people and an enormous diversity of landscapes, species, and cultures that rightly places it amongst the ten most biodiverse countries in the world.

In Peru, you can find 84 life zones and 17 out of the 104 transitional zones present in the world, 8 biogeographical provinces, and 3 huge water basins that contain 12,201 lakes, 1007 rivers, and 3044 glaciers. Likewise, making up natural habitats for different Peruvian wildlife and plant species are vastly different ecosystems, like the extensive sandy areas along the coast, the frigid punas, the high diversity of the eastern slopes of the Andes, and the Amazonian jungles.

Peru relies on and uses in large part its biodiversity. Out of the 25,000 plant species found in Peru, or 10% of the entire number of species worldwide and of which at least 30% are endemic, the population uses around 5,000 in different ways, among the most important being food (782 species), medicines (1400 species), decoration (1608 species), construction and wood products (618), fodder (483 species), and dyes and colors (134 species).

Peru also gathers within its borders a large diversity of cultures. There are 14 language families and at least 44 different ethnic groups, of which 42 are located within the Amazon. These indigenous peoples guard important knowledge regarding the use and properties of different species, diversity of genetic resources, and techniques for managing them. For example, you can find, in one hectare of a traditional potato crop on the Titicaca plateau (Puno), three species and ten varieties of potato. These are more than all the species and varieties grown in North America combined.

Peru furthermore possesses elevated levels of genetic diversity and is one of the centers of origin for different crops and for plant and animal genetic resources. As well, it is the country with the most domesticated native species (128) and contains the greatest variety of potatoes, peppers, and corn (36 species) as well as Andean grains, tubers, and roots. For two of the four most important crops worldwide (wheat, rice, potato, and corn), Peru possesses important levels of genetic diversity for the last two.

It moreover boasts four forms of domesticated animals: the alpaca, domesticated form of the vicuña (Lama vicugna), the llama, domesticated from of the guanaco (Lama guanicoe), the Guinea pig, domesticate form of the Montane Guinea Pig (Cavia tschudii), and the Andean duck, domesticated form of the Amazonian duck (Cairina moschata).

Moreover, the second largest forest in all South America is found in Peru, granting to it enormous potential for carbon storage, climate change mitigation, ecotourism, and conservation of massive possibilities for developing new food, medicinal, and, by and large, industrial products.

Protected Natural Areas
The sixty-three PNA's form the National System of State Protected Natural Areas (SINANPE), which is run by the Office of Protected Natural Areas of the Institute of Natural Resources (INRENA), a decentralized body belonging to the Ministry of Agriculture.

Listed in the indirect benefits of PNA's are the tourism potential and their capacity for carbon storage. Forest types within the PNA's vary from tropical rainforests on the Amazonian plain, 10.5 million hectares of these, to 5.4 million hectares of tropical montane rainforests. Bearing in mind that these forests have the capacity to store 243.18 tons/ ha of carbon, PNA based tropical rainforests would be able to store 3.901 million metric tons of carbon. The potential value of the carbon storage service would be 127 million US dollars.

Forest Diversity
With close to 72 million forested ha and roughly 7.1 million deforested ha, Peru occupies second place on the list of Latin American countries with greatest amount of forest coverage and ninth in the world. 80% of the forested territory is categorized as production or protection forest lands, yet, in economic terms, these are an untapped potential since forest activity accounts for just over 1% of Peru's Gross Domestic Product.

Peruvian forests are not just the tropical ones found in the Amazon, but also the dry forests on the coasts and the remnants of native mountain forests that are as fragile as or even more so than their Amazonian counterparts and are incredibly endangered. Nevertheless, most of the attention and action has been centered on the Amazon, particularly in terms of selective logging since the woods with the highest commercial value (cedar and mahogany) are found there.

Forests on the Amazonian plain take 25 years to regenerate, time sufficient enough just for restoring half of a mature forest's biomass. They also contain between 450 and 750 trees per hectare and account for a diversity in tree species between 126 and 275.

One thing is true: forests contain more than just timber. Fruits, flowers, seeds, resins, palm trees, and even the scenery are just some of the non timber resources found in forests. Likewise, they offer important environmental services (also called "ecosystem services") that have direct influence upon environmental protection, recuperation, and improvement. Some of the most important are water cycle regulation, erosion control, water purification, and contamination reduction.

The main pressure exerted on forest biological diversity is caused by deforestation carried out for change of land use purposes, i.e. agriculture and livestock raising. As of 2000, the amount of deforested area in the Peruvian Amazon was calculated to be 7,172,554 ha (9.25% of the total area of Amazonian forests and 5.6% of the country's total) with the most affected departments being San Martin and Amazonas and there the most affected forest type being montane. In these forests, the density of trees runs from 370 to 700 trees per hectare and diversity between 90 and 150 species. On the other hand, density in the dry forests is much less with a total of no more than 100 trees per hectare.

Without taking into account deforested areas, there is still more than 70 million hectares of natural forests, primarily tropical ones in the Amazon, and some 10 million hectares to be reforested, mainly in the mountains and on the coast.

Peru is one of the centers of origin and diversity for crops, like potatoes, corn, and tomatoes that are staple foods for many countries in the world today. For ten thousand years, Peruvians have been domesticating plants and animals, ingeniously creating and recreating new varieties for the development of an ancient culture that was able to transform obviously arid and mountainous terrain into long term productive and sustainable farmland.

Among the most noteworthy plants man domesticated along the coast and in the Peruvian Andes are the potato, ulluco, cassava, sweet potato, butter bean, bean, oca, chili pepper, pumpkin, gourd, wild cucumber, lucuma, quinoa, cotton, and corn. And in terms of animal domestication, there is the Muscovy duck on the coast and the llama, alpaca, and Guinea pig in the highlands. In the Amazon, through plant management and use, families learned to cultivate their own gardens and are continuing the process of domestication even today. This vast amount of diversity feeds and cures an immeasurable number of the world's inhabitants, fertilizes their crops, and stimulates industrial development.

After the Rio Convention on Biological Diversity, Peru began the gradual development of different strategies and plans of action, the much needed legal and management framework for setting in motion activities that promote the conservation and sustainable use of its agrobiodiversity, and the required care for granting access to and for distributing the benefits coming from its associated genetic resources as well as for protecting traditional knowledge linked to that biodiversity.

Different institutions are involved in these processes. The National Council for the Environment (CONAM) completely supports the legal framework, the National Institute for Agricultural Innovation (INIA) energizes in situ and ex situ conservation programs and their development, the Peruvian Amazon Research Institute (IIAP) carries out and encourages Peruvian Amazonian natural resource inventory, research, evaluation, control, sustainable use, and industrialization, and the National Institute for the Defense of Competition and Protection of Intellectual Property (INDECOPI) protects all types of intellectual property and is the administrative authority for granting rights to plant breeders.

Peru has planned that, by 2010, conservation and sustainable use of its agrobiodiversity will contribute to improving the food security and increasing the quality of life of all Peruvians, especially for native communities and local farmers. It will, furthermore, contribute to the country's economic development through goods and services obtained from its biodiversity, generate useful information for germplasm conservation, increase the value of traditional knowledge and practices, and promote participatory research and the protection of its intellectual property rights on the valuable agricultural germplasm pool.

Climate Change
In the case of Peru, its huge geographic and climatic diversity and complex geological and geodynamic makeup are not just the origin of its extraordinary biological diversity, but also place the entire country at risk . Mudslides, frosts, floods, landslides, and droughts are gradually intensifying. Its location places it on the list of countries most affected by severe El Niños. Changes in temperature and precipitation patterns affect ecosystems, in particular fragile ones, and alter biodiversity. Resulting from these changes will be negative impacts on agriculture and fishing, which will, in turn, damage food security. One of the most important aspects of climate change is deglaciation. Studies estimate that by 2060, only those glaciers above elevations of 6000 meters will survive. Already in 2001, glaciers in the White Mountains (world's tallest tropical mountain chain) had retreated 22%, a quantity of water equal to the amount of water all Peruvians drink in one decade. As a consequence, there will be negative impacts on hydroelectric power generation and water storage since these two depend directly on the country's climatic conditions.

Therefore, climate change places all development processes in jeopardy and is a threat to ecosystems and other elements of Peru's biodiversity.


The purpose of biotrade is to encourage the sustainable traffic of goods and services coming from native biodiversity while applying the principles of environmental, social, and economic responsibility within the framework of the Convention of Biological Diversity.

Since Peru is one of the world's most megadiverse countries, the government created the National Biotrade Promotion Program (PNBP) in 2002, allying this with the UNCTAD Biotrade Facilitation Program in order to promote the sustainable use of natural capital.

The PNBP assists in the consolidation of sustainable business ventures and promotes it at the same time. The following sectors have been given priority in the national program's strategy:

The PNBP is supported by the interinstitutional work of public institutions, the likes of the MINCETUR – Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism, PROMPERU – Commission for the Promotion of Peru for Exports and Tourism, the IIAP – Peruvian Amazon Research Institute, the CONAM – National Council for the Environment, and the main trade unions linked to biotrade.

The different strategies of the PNBP are:

By 2020, Peru will be an internationally recognized country in conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity through increasing the competitiveness of its biotrade related chains in order that they be able to place on the market quality products with high added value so the agents involved in the production processes reap the benefits and hence contribute to biodiversity conservation.
  • Peru has increased the quality and sustainability of the value chains for natural ingredients.
  • Management tools for implementing biotrade and best practices in sustainable use of biodiversity have reached the hands of those involved in the sector.
  • Projects for acknowledging the importance of and managing Andean and Amazonian biodiversity have been carried out collaboratively with different actors, such as the governments of Germany, Finland, and Switzerland, as well as the Andean Community of Nations.
  • Trade opportunities for native biodiversity goods and services have been opened up, applying an inclusive approach, and niche markets have furthermore been identified.
Peru is one of the ten most biodiverse countries in the world.
  • 84 of the 117 planet's life zones are found in Peru.
  • It ranks second on the list of bird diversity with 1,816 species.
  • It contains 128 of the most important bird watching areas.
  • It ranks fifth in mammal species with 515.
  • It ranks fifth in reptile species with 418.
  • It ranks fourth in amphibian species with 449.
  • It ranks first in fish species with roughly 2000 found in the ocean and on the continent – 10% of the total number of world's species.
  • It ranks eighth in flowering plant species with 25,000 described.
  • It ranks first in butterfly species with 3,532.
  • It shelters close to 10% of all orchids on the planet.
  • Birds: 115 species (6% of the total)
  • Mammals: 109 species (27.5% of the total)
  • Amphibians: 185 species (48.5% of the total)
  • Butterflies: 58 species (12.5% of the total)
  • Orchids: 300 – 350 species (1% of the total)
Comisión Nacional de Diversidad Biológica
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