The still roadless, exceptionally remote Alto Purús backcountry

 

“The Amazon provokes cliché even as it defies hyperbole.”

—Wade Davis, Shadows in the Sun

 

As has come to light with the recent fires in Brazil, the Amazon matters. Covering well over a billion acres, its forests account for half of the world’s remaining rainforest, 10-15% of the planet’s terrestrial species, and it alone produces 20% of the world's fresh water and 20% of the oxygen. It provides temperature regulation and climate stability for South America and much of the world—and, of course, the carbon released by its deforestation affects us all. The Alto Purús in Peru specifically is one of the most remote, inaccessible areas of the Amazon, where still-intact natural ecosystems provide sustenance for some of the last isolated “uncontacted” tribes on Earth. At 6.2 million acres, the Alto Purús National Park is Peru’s largest, and together with Manu National Park, anchors a massive 25 million acre mosaic of protected areas, forestry concessions, territorial reserves, and indigenous lands. While still largely intact, this complex is threatened by a number of familiar deforestation drivers including logging, mining, oil and gas development, coca plantations, agricultural expansion, and both illegal and legal road construction projects that open up previously inaccessible forests with devastating and irrevocable impacts on the ecosystems and all who depend on them.

The legitimate need for social services and economic opportunities in remote towns and villages is driving a contentious battle between expansive development of extractive industries, a range of illegal activities, the associated threats to human rights, and the environment, and the protection of this unique cultural and biological diversity.

Our work in these communities and the landscapes that support them seeks to explore and understand the value and complexity of remote rural life. Their stories, your understanding, and truly informed conversations about these dynamics will empower the fight against all that jeopardizes their quality of life and sovereignty to act as stewards of this Last Wildest Place on Earth.