Kew Bulletin

, Volume 65, Issue 4, pp 613–641 | Cite as

An ecosystem approach to restoration and sustainable management of dry forest in southern Peru

  • Oliver Q. Whaley
  • David G. Beresford-Jones
  • William Milliken
  • Alfonso Orellana
  • Anna Smyk
  • Joaquín Leguía


The dry forest of the Peruvian south coast has undergone an almost total process of deforestation. Populations here have increased exponentially through immigration supplying labour to urban coastal development, and demonstrably unsustainable agro-industrial expansion for export markets. Society has become dislocated from local traditions of environmental and resource management whilst still retaining a wealth of Andean agricultural expertise. Indigenous communities still hold on to vestiges of traditional knowledge. Relicts of natural vegetation, traditional agriculture and agrobiodiversity continue to sustain ecosystem services. Moreover, offer livelihood options and resources for restoration. These aspects reflect a long cultural trajectory, including famous extinct cultures such as Nasca, that evolved within an ever-changing riparian and agricultural landscape influenced by external forces and which incorporated important processes of plant domestication and adaptation to climatic oscillation.

Here, we present an ecosystem approach to vegetation restoration and sustainable resource management in Ica, Peru, based on wide interdisciplinary biodiversity inventory and study, where school, community and agro-industry engagement is seen as a prerequisite for success. The approach demonstrated significant plant establishment in this hyperarid region using appropriate low-technology techniques of planting and irrigation with minimum watering. Restoration of a highly degraded environment built upon vegetation relicts followed a strategy of cultural capacity building and environmental engagement, including the development of sustainable forest products, festivals, schools programmes, didactic publications for local use, and collaboration with local communities, landowners, agribusiness and governmental authorities. Plant conservation must re-engage people with their natural heritage by dissemination of information for vegetation restoration and management integrated to dynamics of ecosystem function within its wide local cultural and historical context.

Key words

agriculture archaeology desert huarango Ica local communities Nasca culture Prosopis 



The Project was funded largely by the Darwin Initiative (DEFRA) through the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. We thank also other funders, local sponsors and participants: the Asociación para la Niñez y Medio Ambiente (ANIA); Bettys and Taylor, Trees for Cities UK; the Bentham-Moxon Trust; Grupo de Aves Perú (GAP); Agrícola Chapi S.A; Sociedad Agrícola Drokasa S.A.; Fundo Chanca, the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge; Susana Arce and the Museo Regional de Ica (INC-Ica); Rio Tinto; the Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina (UNALM); the Universidad Nacional San Luis Gonzaga de Ica (UNICA) and Alberto Benavídes, Aniceto Daza, Carlos Reynel, Julio y Julia Sanchez, Olivia Sejuro, and many more. And most importantly all the Project’s dedicated team in Ica especially: Helver Álvarez, Consuelo Borda, Ciro Gómez, Stefania Grimaldo, Clauda Lüthi, Marco Mendoza, Octavio Pecho, Evelyn Pérez, Félix Quinteros, Flor Salvatierra, Miguel Soto and Mario Tenorio.


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Copyright information

© The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Oliver Q. Whaley
    • 1
  • David G. Beresford-Jones
    • 2
  • William Milliken
    • 1
  • Alfonso Orellana
    • 3
  • Anna Smyk
    • 4
  • Joaquín Leguía
    • 5
  1. 1.The HerbariumRoyal Botanic Gardens, KewRichmondUK
  2. 2.McDonald Institute for Archaeological ResearchUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  3. 3.Universidad Nacional San Luis Gonzaga de Ica, Perú (UNICA)IcaPeru
  4. 4.Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)LondonUK
  5. 5.Asociación para la Niñez y su Ambiente, Perú (ANIA)LimaPeru

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