The crees foundation is a conservation and sustainable development organisation that has worked for over a decade to promote sustainable resource management in the Manu Biosphere Reserve.
A UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most important areas of biodiversity globally, the Manu Biosphere Reserve is home to part of the last intact forest in Peru. Its multiple fragile ecosystems (the Andean Purma, Cloud Forest & Lowland rainforest) are home not only to an amazing array of fauna and flora but also to indigenous people and an ever increasing community of immigrant settlers who are struggling to live sustainably and in harmony. In Amazon terms, the 1500 acres of rainforest managed by crees is not large. But their mission is. They strive to create a realistic long-term model for protecting the bio-diversity of the rainforest; one that fully involves the people who live here.
This means encouraging and providing support for sustainable ways of making a living from the rainforest. Rather than feeling the pressure to exploit their environment, we want the local communities to realise its importance as a long-term resource, vital to their prosperity.
This has to be a collaborative effort. On the one hand developing education programmes, on the other, building up enterprises that involve local know-how and harness global concern.
crees uses tourism and their experiential learning experiences to help fund the work of the foundation. The advantage of bringing visitors to the rainforest – when run responsibly – is that it allows the global perspective to be understood locally, and vice-versa.
Rather than being taken for granted, the rainforest can then be recognized for its real worth.
We believe that just because we don´t all see and feel the rainforest in our everyday lives it does not mean we don´t impact its future. crees´ role is to introduce people to the value of the rainforest both imagined and real. Starting by researching and identifying what exists in the rainforest ecosystem, defining how it interacts and what attributes exist. This creation of a baseline of information about the forest then allows us to look at what are the most productive ways of using the forest in collaboration with its local communities along sustainable principles.
We then take the fantasy of what we could do and contextualise it with how local people work, what systems function and build a realistic path to long term sustainability. Local cultures value the forest in different ways and whilst global concern of forests maybe a driving factor in helping their conservation it will be impossible without local buy in.
Finally after defining what to do, we train locals and build their capacity as well as providing the financial support to get them going. However we don´t just leave them to get on with it alone, we continue to pursue how to improve our work with them, building a transparent path towards a common goal.
Its about collaboration…