The area is characterized by beautiful landscapes and spectacular geologic formations with unique flora and fauna. The forest zones in the protected area correspond to forest protection classes I and II (designated by forest legislation). According to this land classification, classes I and II are not suitable for intensive agriculture because of their significant slopes. They are managed to preserve the river basins, wildlife, scenic and scientific values, collective benefit, and social interest.
The type and structure of the forest is related to the climate and the edaphic conditions. The climate in any specific location is determined by the topography. The edaphic conditions are determined by the geology, drainage patterns, and the dynamics and historical development of the soil, all of which have influence over the characteristics of Alto Mayo Protected Forest. The presence of the cloud forests plays an important role in the hydrological activity of the region.
159 species of trees and lianas have been identified in the Venceremos mountainous forests, in the interior of the Alto Mayo Protected Forest, with high diversity among the Lauraceae and Melastomataceae families. Of 26 mountainous forest sites analyzed in Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, and Columbia, Venceremos presents the greatest number of species (6).
Some examples of species found in the area are: Spanish Cedar (Cedrela odorata), requia (Guarea trichilioides), rifari (Miconia longifolia), rupiña (Miconia poeppigii), manchinga (Brosium uleanum), ojé (Ficus antihelmintica), cetico (Cecropia sp.), chimicua (Perebea chimicua), uvilla (Puorouma cecropiaefolia), tornillo (Cedrelinga catenaeformis), cascarilla (Cinchona pubescens), sanango (Faranea anisocalix), palo seco (Alseia peruviana), huamansamana (Dipterix alata), amasisa (Erythrina glauca), quinilla (Manilkara bidentata), marupa (Simarouba amara), tortilla caspi (Allophylus divaricatus), ingaina (Mauria suaveolens), yurac ciprana (Guatteria hyposericeae), espintana (Duguetia spixiana), chontaquiro (Aspidosperma capitatum), zapote (Matisia cordata), achiote caspi (Bixa platycarpa), copal (Protium sp)., yacushapana (Terminalia oblonga), ucshaquiro (Sclerolobium chrysophyllum), guayacán (Tecoma grandiceps), gutapercha (Sapium aureum), catahua (Hura crepitans), sangre de grado (Croton erythrochilus), mashonaste (Clarisia racemosa), moena amarilla (Aniba amazónica), moena negra (Ocotea sp.), canela moena (Aniba canelilla), moena blanca (Nectandra globosa), quillosilla (Vochysia weberbaueri), pájaro bobo (Tessaria intergrifolia), cumala (Virola sp.), bellaco caspi (Plumeria tarapotensis), chuchuhuasa (Heisteria pallida), and tamshi (Cardulovica sp.). There are also palms such as Ceroxilon sp., Geonoma sp., Mauritia sp., Iriartea ventricosa, Astrocaryum chambira, Euterpe precatoria, Jessenia polycarpa, Mauritia peruviana and ferns of the Cyathea sp., among others (7).
Among the various fauna in the area, there are species with great scientific value and those that require protection. The yellow-tailed wooly monkey (Lagothrix flavicauda) and the oilbird (Steatornis caripensis) are endangered species. The tufted capuchin (Cebus apella), white-fronted capuchin (Cebus albifrons), collared anteater (Tamandua tetradactyla), giant armadillo (Priodontes giganteus), spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus), jaguar (Pantera onca), king vulture (Sarcoramphus papa), and Andean cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruviana) are vulnerable species.
The work conducted by biologists Susan and Theodore Parker in the Afluente - Venceremos sector in the interior of the Alto Mayo Protected Forest has shown the existence of a great variety of birds, many of which are rare and were not previously recorded or discovered in Peru, like Xenerpestes singularis (8). In their 1980 study, in a 1.5 mi2 area, they succeeded in finding 168 bird species. Also, in August 1976 in a study conducted by Gary Graves, John O'Neill and Theodore Parker, a new bird species, ochre-fronted antpitta (Grallaricula ochraceifrons) was discovered (9). It is also possible to find signs of the marvelous Spatuletail (Loddigesia mirabilis).
Other species found within the area are: swallow-tailed kite (Elanoides forficatus), razor-billed curassow (Crax mitu), Andean guan (Penelope montagnii), speckled chachalaca (Ortalis guttata), tropical American orioles (Cacicus sp.), blue-grey tanager (Thraupis episcopus), musician wren (Cyphorhinus aradus), Cuvier's toucan (Ramphastos cuvieri), ducks (Anas sp.), parrots (Amazona sp.), parakeets (Brotogeris sp.), woodpeckers (Campephilus sp.), red howler monkey (Alouatta seniculus), nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus), squirrels (Sciurus sp.), rats (rattus sp.), ocelot (Felis pardalis), white-lipped peccary (Tayassu pecari), red brocket (Mazama americana), brown brocket or grey brocket (Mazama gouazoubira), snakes Spilotes pullatus, Lachesis muta, Micrurus sp., Bothrops sp., among others (10). (Click here to see a compilation of completed studies and extensive flora and fauna lists for Alto Mayo Protection Forest, by Claudia Véliz Rosa, Biologist, August 2003 (in Spanish only)).
6 Gentry A. Diversity Floristic Composition of Andean Forest of Peru and Adjacent countries: Implications for their Conservation. 1992.
7 Laínez, A., Moncada, M., Gómez, T. Op. cit. Pags. 27 - 29.
8 Parker, Theodore A., and Susan Parker. 1980. Rediscovery of Xenerpestes singularis (Furnariidae).
Auk, 97: 203-205.
9 Graves, Gary R., John P. 0'Neill, and Theodore A. Parker, III. 1983. Grallaricula ochraceifrons, a new species of antpitta from northern Peru. Wilson Bull., 95: 1-6.
10 Laínez, A., Moncada, M., Gómez, T. Op. Cit. Pags. 29 - 33.