Equal access to education and sustainable resource management: the key to successful development in the Manu Biosphere Reserve

In the last few days, the Manu Biosphere Reserve (Peru) has taken two significant steps: it has approved a plan for the use of timber and opened a boarding school for girls in the village of Boca Manu located in the biosphere reserve.

On Tuesday, 14 July 2015 the National Service of Protected Natural Areas (SERNANP), which is responsible for administration of the Biosphere Reserve, met with the Association of Artisans of Boca Manu to approve the final version of a plan for the use of timber. Because logging is prohibited in the area, the members of the Association will take turns to ‘catch’ timber naturally drawn by the Manu River during the rainy season, which is then used to build boats.

Increasing alluvial erosion enables the use of high-value woods such as cedar, mahogany and catahua. SERNAP has worked for months with the Association of Artisans of Boca Manu to develop a plan for the use of the timber and to implement a legal framework to bring this resource to the market. This new plan will benefit over forty families in local communities by contributing to alternative forms of economic and social development, allowing them to improve their quality of life.

The quality of life of residents will benefit not only from the adoption of this plan, but also from equal access among girls in the Matsiguenka community to education. On July 15 2015, the Frankfurt Zoological Society, SERNANP and the District Municipality of Fitzcarrald opened the boarding school Maganiro Matsiguenka (We are all Matsiguenkas) to enable girls to continue their secondary education in Boca Manu, the closest village to the communities, located two days away by boat.

The Frankfurt Zoological Society will fund the boarding school and teaching staff, who will provide educational reinforcement and guidance to young Matsiguenka girls.

The Manu Biosphere Reserve (1977) is located in southeastern Peru between the departments of Madre de Dios and Cusco. These two projects reflect the objectives of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere programme and are of particular importance for the reserve. They provide local people with a better standard of education and economic life, and encourage partners to engage in the conservation of biodiversity and natural resources.

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