Wake Forest University will partner with two other universities to support the work of the Peruvian National Park Service by connecting scientists with park managers and policy makers in new ways. The work is funded by a $2.5 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Wake Forest’s Andrew Sabin Family Center for Environment and Sustainability (Sabin Center), the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru School of Governance and Public Policy (PUCP), and Colorado State University’s Center for Protected Areas Management (CPAM) will focus on “Science and Capacity Development for Peruvian National Parks.” The project builds on the work done through a pilot grant to WFU and PUCP, also from the Moore Foundation, completed between 2020 and 2022.

The collaborative effort is connected to the Sabin Center’s broader “Science for Parks” initiative.

Peru is one of the mega diversity hotspots of the world, with 1,847 bird species (3rd in the world), over 520 species of mammals, over 620 amphibian species, and more than 20,000 species of plants. The Amazon region of the country, where nearly 25% of the geographic area is in national protected areas, holds the vast majority of this biodiversity. Peru is also rich in timber, mineral resources, and oil and gas reserves, putting protected areas under threat from extractive activities like illegal logging and mining, and from small and large infrastructure and energy projects (roads, hydropower and petroleum/natural gas). A changing climate produces additional environmental stresses.

The project, led by WFU Sabin Center Senior Fellow and Research Professor in Biology Carol Mitchell, PUCP Professor Cristina Miranda-Beas, and CPAM Director Ryan Finchum, will develop new coalitions between universities and the Peruvian National Park Service (SERNANP) to strengthen science and management capacity within the agency.

“Together, our three institutions are a powerful force for positive change toward strengthening the management and protection of biodiversity in the Peruvian Amazon, ” said Carol Mitchell. “The grant will foster deeper connections and greater communication between scientists and national park managers,” Mitchell said.

By making additional science resources available, improving understanding between scientists and decision-makers, and strengthening overall management capacity, the project will improve the ability of park managers SERNANP to reduce the impacts of extraction, infrastructure, and climate change on national parks in the Peruvian Amazon.

Two learning exchanges are planned for 21 senior-level Peruvian natural resource managers, government scientists, and academics – one in the southeastern United States and the other to western U.S. parks and reserves. The Peruvian group will connect with their U.S. counterparts to share information on park operations. The exchanges will showcase networks in the U.S. that strengthen science resources through interagency and academic coordination, and will provide a foundation for participants to design science networks for Peruvian national parks. At least 60 SERNANP staff will be trained in park management through participation in programs at CPAM, and 120 SERNANP staff trained in science synthesis and the production of policy briefs for management through a new program at PUCP. Through these shared experiences, the project will foster coalitions among Peruvian institutions that focus on making science available in a timely way, and on creating a permanent capacity building program for SERNANP in Peru.

Each member of the consortium brings long experience and specialized expertise to the project. Wake Forest through the Sabin Center and the Department of Biology has been a leader for more than 30 years in scientific research for Amazonian and Andean biodiversity conservation in Peru. PUCP is the leading university in Peru for governance and policy-making programs and provides the critical link between the academic community and the Peruvian National Park Service. CSU-CPAM is a leading institution at a global level for capacity development in protected areas management.

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation fosters path-breaking scientific discovery, environmental conservation, patient care improvements, and preservation of the special character of the Bay Area. Visit Moore.org and follow @MooreFound.

By Cheryl Walker  |   walkercv@wfu.edu  |   336.758.6073