The Alto Mayo Protection Forest is an area of protected forestland in northern Peru. This area preserves a portion of the tropical yungas forest in the upper Mayo River basin while protecting soil and water from erosion by deforestation. The area is the water supply for populations in the Mayo valley.
Alto Mayo Protection Forest
The Alto Mayo Protection Forest is an area of protected forestland in northern Peru. It is located in the San Martín region of northern Peru and spans 182,000 ha (450,000 acres).
The forest reserve protects part of the Peruvian Yungas ecoregion in the upper Mayo River basin, while protecting soil and water from erosion by deforestation. The area is the water supply for populations in the Mayo valley.
This is a mountainous area, as it is located in the eastern part of the Andes, featuring slope grades greater than 70% in some parts. The area and its surroundings are part of the river Mayo upper watershed and eleven of the Mayo's main tributaries originate within the Alto Mayo Protected Forest.
Despite its protected status, the forest has had some of the country's highest deforestation rates. Contributing factors included lack of enforcement of the protected area, a national highway built through the forest, an influx of people settling in the region and unsustainable farming practices. As a result of depleted soil, farmers cut down more trees in order to maintain production levels.
To help halt this cycle, Conservation International began working with partners, including local communities, corporations and Peru's government, to protect the Alto Mayo forest.
The main threats to this protected area are: the illegal settlement of farmers inside the forest who clear the land for agriculture; the extraction of wild orchids and animals for sale; timber extraction and unsustainable fishing practices.
Some of the mammals reported in the area are: the yellow-tailed woolly monkey, the spectacled bear, the cougar, the Peruvian night monkey, the Rio Mayo titi and the giant armadillo.
Birds reported in the protection forest are: the Andean cock-of-the-rock, the oilbird, the king vulture, the equatorial greytail, the long-whiskered owlet, the swallow-tailed kite, the razor-billed curassow, the Andean guan, the speckled chachalaca, the blue-grey tanager, the white-throated toucan, etc.
Among the plant species found in the Alto Mayo Protection Forest are trees such as:
- cedro (Cedrela odorata)
- requia (Guarea trichilioides)
- rifari (Miconia longifolia)
- ojé (Ficus insipida)
- cetico (Cecropia sp.)
- uvilla (Pourouma cecropiifolia)
- tornillo (Cedrelinga cateniformis)
- cascarilla (Cinchona pubescens)
- palo seco (Alseis peruviana)
- huamansamana (Dipteryx alata)
- amasisa (Erythrina fusca)
- quinilla (Manilkara bidentata)
- marupa (Simarouba amara)
- yurac ciprana (Guatteria hyposericea)
- zapote (Quararibea cordata)
- guayacán (Tabebuia ochracea)
- catahua (Hura crepitans)
- mashonaste (Clarisia racemosa)
- moena negra (Ocotea sp.)
Orchids found here include: Phragmipedium boisserianum, Masdevallia vargasii, etc.