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Biosphere Reserves, sustainable development opportunities for local communities

The National Service of Protected Natural Areas (SERNANP), UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme and the German International Cooperation (GIZ) jointly organized the workshop ‘Biosphere reserves, an opportunity to promote differentiated products and services’, held in Lima (11–13 March 2015). The workshop was attended by representatives of regional governments, mayors and producer associations of the four Peruvian biosphere reserves, as well as representatives of Colombian and Spanish biosphere reserves.

The Oxapampa-Ashaninka-Yanesha Biosphere Reserve gave a presentation on Villa Rica coffee, which is produced in the reserve and has received national and international recognition. The Noroeste Biosphere Reserve presented eight projects jointly undertaken with the state and local populations to develop production activities for the benefit of the local Tumbes region.

The workshop also invited two honorary guests to share experiences from their own biosphere reserves: Mr Antonio San Blas from the La Palma Biosphere Reserve (Spain) and Ms June Marie Mow Robinson from the Seaflower Biosphere Reserve (Colombia). Both invitees used educational and interactive approaches to explain the steps that both biosphere reserves had followed and the different challenges they had encountered. They discussed the socio-economic benefits achieved through the promotion of products and services from their biosphere reserves and their contribution to sustainable development.

The four Peruvian biosphere reserves and Gran Pajatén, which is currently working on its nomination to become the fifth biosphere reserve of Peru, worked in groups to identify their strengths and weaknesses and potential services and products, as well as the different steps in the development of a biosphere reserve brand.

The Director of SERNANP, Mr Pedro Gamboa, stated that this event constituted a milestone on the long road the International Congress of Biosphere Reserves. The event, to be held in March 2016 in Peru, will serve as a platform to share successful conservation and sustainable development experiences from biosphere reserves in the region.