San Martin region was heavily deforested in the 1980’s as it became a red zone of coca production. With the help of USAID, local farmers switched from coca to cocoa cultivation in the 1990’s. The Fair Trade & Organic cooperative ACOPAGRO was created at that time. Launched in 2008, Alto Huayabamba reforestation project was set up with the objective to develop best-class agroforestry systems and ensure the sustainability of the cocoa cultivation model. ACOPAGRO cooperative was created in 1997, as part of a UN program to substitute coca plantations with cocoa and other alternative crops in the San Martin region, Amazon, Peru. It now counts 2000 members: small-scale producers of cocoa and sugar cane having 5 hectares of land each, with an average 2.2 ha of cocoa fields.
To reduce local pressures on forest and biodiversity (San Martin is one the most deforested region of Peru), ACOPAGRO and PUR PROJET set up a community reforestation program called “Alto Huayabamba”. The plantation started in 2008 and the project is now fully operational with 1.2 million trees planted (June 2013) and was validated according to the VCS standard. The objective is to plant 2 million trees over 2300 hectares of degraded land and cultivated land, practicing agro-forestry combining native trees species with cocoa trees and forestry plantations. A complementary REDD+ program (Biocorredor Martin Sagrado) is currently underway to protect forests with high conservation value in the area..
- It promotes agro-forestry, an agricultural system which enables access to environmental services recognized by the Peruvian law: conservation of water resources, preservation of biodiversity, conservation of landscapes, protection against natural disasters and fire risks control. Agro-forestry systems keeps on being the best strategy of management and protection against the global climate change effects.
- It fights deforestation and its consequences, such as soil erosion, decrease of water availability, natural disasters, landscapes degradation, and decrease of biodiversity. It also increases farmers’ awareness about these primordial issues.
- It helps people reforest and therefore bring an added value to their lands and ensure them a longterm income that can be used to pay for the studies of their children or for their retirement pension. As a consequence, it will provoke a local socio-economic development.