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In Peru, Inca descendants restore forests

January 29, 2019

In the Peruvian Andes, villagers travel from far and wide to take part in a special tree-planting ceremony each year. They want to restore once lush forests and protect their villages from landslides.

Peruvian villagers walking in the Andes
Image: DW/C. Laszczak

Peru: New trees for the Andes

Project aim: Restoring the polylepis forest in the Andes with the help of the indigenous community there

Project implementation: Villagers in the region are growing saplings in tree nurseries and planting them at heights of 4000 meters (13123.36 feet)
Project partner: Peruvian NGO, the Association for Andean Ecosystems (ECOAN), which is working to protect endangered ecosystems and animals in the Andes 

Project size: Polylepis reforestation is happening mainly in Peru. The plan is to plant 1 million trees in 2020. The plan is to expand the project to other Andes countries in Latin America

Project duration: The project has been running for 19 years 

Each year in the Peruvian Andes, men, women, children and llamas take ancient pathways once traced by the Incas to participate in a special festival called "Queuna Raymi." Around 200 people make the trek up a mountain carrying shovels, tools and saplings for the tree-planting ceremony.

Over the past few centuries, the forests that once grew on these mountain slopes have fallen victim to land clearances for agriculture with fatal consequences, including landslides that can wash away villages. The indigenous communities there hope the tree-planting project can help restore the forest and its many benefits.

A film by Claudia Laszczak

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