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Vilcanota Sub-region

Contact Information

Lead Institutions and User Groups

The assessment will be undertaken by the International Center of Traditional Knowledge, Ecology, and Policies (CICTEP), which is a project of the Asociación ANDES, a community-based Quechua-Aymara organization working on conservation and livelihoods promotion in the Andes region. To undertake the assessment, CICTEP will work closely with the Ausangate Community Association (a community organization of Ausangate sub-region associated to ANDES) made up of the indigenous communities of Tinqui, Tayancany, Cotaña, Mahuayani, Pausipanpa, and Anjasi.

The primary users of the assessment will be the communities of Tinqui, Tayancany, Cotaña, Mahuayani, Pausipanpa, Anjasi which form the Ausangate assessment area. Surrounding communities and the municipality of Ocongate will also use the assessment. The assessment will be completely user-driven.

Focal Issues

The main objective of this assessment is to assess the state of the ecosystem in the Vilcanota sub-region of the Peruvian Andes (Figure 1). It is imperative to do so as soon as possible due to the increasing intensity of global dynamics and drivers of ecosystem change, such as mass tourism and mining. These impacts are significant at the sub-regional and local level, particularly in terms of the ecological and socio-cultural dimensions. This may cause short and long-term loss of capacity for self-reliance, and the erosion of biological and cultural diversity.

Ecosystem Services

Cultural services (spirituality); provisioning services (water, food); supporting services (soil, primary production). Agrobiodiversity will also be assessed.

Key Features of the Assessment

Figure 1. Vilcanota, Peru assessment area.

The Vilcanota sub-region is the second most important ice-capped mountain range of the Peruvian Andes. It comprises 469 glaciers in an area of 539 square kilometers. The mountain range is the origin of an extended watershed system. The Ayacachi and Central Vilcanota systems are located in the northeast. In the north, the main systems are Qosnipata and Pilcopata, which border the Manu National Park. To the east the Marcapata and San Gaban are the main watersheds, and in the south is located the Vilcanota system, which constitutes the Sacred Valley of the Incas. These systems border two main differentiated ecosystems at the regional level: the Amazon rainforest to the east and the Andean valleys to the west.

This ecosystem differentiation, as well as historical factors, have produced a very rich biological and cultural diversity in the region characterized by the existence of a large number of endemic species. Rich local knowledge and practices have made possible the adaptive management of natural resources for sustaining local livelihoods. Locals believe that systems and values, including the treatment of mountains as divinities, have allowed for the maintenance of a strong local cultural identity that approaches nature on the basis of concepts of relatedness to the natural world.

The area is also a known hot spot of biodiversity in the region, characterized by the existence of a large number of endemic species. It also an area of concentrated native agrobiodiversity and livestock populations. Natural resources are now under pressure and local land users have little means to improve their livelihoods. Present day changes and the influence of a liberalized world economy, particularly mining and tourism, have created social and cultural tensions and ecological degradation, making it particularly crucial to carry out an ecosystem assessment in this important ecoregion.

© 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment