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In 1960, a senator from Ancash, Mr. Augusto Guzmán Robles, was the first to suggest protecting the area when he presented a law to congress proposing Huascarán National Park. In 1963, the Forest and Hunting Service presented a different project delineating a 321,000-hectare park called Cordillera Blanca National Park. On February 18, 1966 Ministerial Resolution 101 was issued prohibiting logging and hunting of native species throughout Cordillera Blanca. On October 27, 1966 the Huascarán National Park Trust in Yungay was formed. Then, in 1967, two Peace Corps Volunteers from the United States, Curry Slaymaker and Joel Albrecht, formed a proposal to protect 85,000 hectares. Simultaneously, Huaraz's Forestry Region established a vicuña and Puya raimondi monitoring zone spanning approximately 10,000 hectares. (20


On July 1, 1975 Supreme Decree 0622-75-AG officially created Huascarán National Park with a territorial extension of 340,000 hectares. Less than two years later, on March 1, 1977, UNESCO catapulted the park to international status when it recognized Huascarán National Park as a Biosphere Reserve. Biosphere reserves comprise multi-use areas that ensure conservation of ecosystems and their biodiversity. In addition, research of ecosystems under the influence of anthropogenic change is conducted, as is monitoring, and training of specialists. 


The general concept of a biosphere was developed in 1974. Biosphere reserves are terrestrial and coastal/marine ecosystems, internationally recognized under the Man and the Biosphere Program. Three primary, complimentary functions are assigned to such reserves: a conservation function to protect genetic resources, species, ecosystems, and landscapes; a development function to promote sustainable human development; and a logistic function to support and encourage research activities, education, and permanent monitoring related with local, national and international conservation and sustainable development activities. (21) Huascarán Biosphere Reserve's borders extend beyond the park and its buffer zone to incorporate the left bank of Santa River and the right side of Callejón de Conchucos, which includes several towns and rural settlements. 


In December 1985, Huascarán National Park was listed as a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site. Sites on this list are of exceptional interest because they conserve globally important natural elements and are threatened to some degree. Peru's Government has committed to caring for the area because of its natural and global value. Protecting this heritage site is also of concern to the international community  

Since Huascarán National Park was created, sector authorities have promulgated a range of regulations that together form the legal framework for protecting and restricting access. In addition, park staff has been working for many years to establish objectives, and then organize themselves to inform diverse groups about the objectives of the park. (22


When Huascarán National Park was established, the Forestry and Wildlife Law 21147 in effect applied to and regulated protected areas. It defined national parks as areas where flora and wildlife communities and landscape beauty would be protected. (23)   


As detailed in Supreme Decree 0622-75-AG of July 1, 1975 that created the park, the need to protect the area arose from the studies in Cordillera Blanca conducted by the General Forestry and Fauna Agency and Huaraz Zone III Agrarian Agency. These studies determined that because Cordillera Blanca was the largest tropical mountain range in the world and possessed rich flora, fauna, geologic formations, snow-capped mountains, and exceptional landscape beauty that it, or at least part of it, should be conserved. Its diverse ecosystems should be conserved because of their great natural, scientific, and cultural value. Archeological monuments found in Cordillera Blanca attest to their importance in Peru's magnificent history. And, by establishing a national park, tourism activities could be developed that would directly benefit local people. 


The park's creation decree also states that communal businesses and rural communities holding legal possession of lands within the park at the time of the park's creation could continue to conduct their traditional agricultural and grazing activities as long as they did not destroy the natural landscape, clear cut trees or shrubs, burn pastures, overgraze, or hunt or capture wildlife.  


Chief Resolution No. 317-2001-INRENA established the park's buffer zone. According to the Natural Protected Areas Law, buffer zones are zones next to protected areas that because of their nature or location require special treatment to guarantee the protected area's conservation. The Master Plan of each protected area defines their corresponding buffer zones. Activities in the buffer zone should in no way threaten the protected area or compromise its ability to achieve its conservation goals. (24


Master Plan



he General Forestry and Wildlife Office of the Ministry of Agriculture issued Director Resolution 087-90-AG/DGFF approving Huascarán's first Master Plan on July 26, 1990. A Master Plan is a protected area's most important management planning document. These documents should be elaborated in a participatory manner and revised every five years. At minimum, the master plan defines zoning, strategies, and general policies for the protected area's management. Also included are organization, objectives, and specific management plans and programs. Master plans should also include a section on cooperation, coordination, and participation. There should be an action plan for implementing the plan and specific plans for different activities and resources, reflecting each natural protected area's particularities. Finally, each plan should also outline specific sub-plans for uses, fundamental lines of work, and major influences in the area. (25


Under the first management plan (effective from 1990 to 2001), Huascarán's management was focused on reaching three large objectives outlined in its creation degree: Conserving biological diversity, research, and contributing to development of surrounding communities.


In accordance with legislation at the time, Huascarán's 1990 Master Plan established five management zones:  


Restricted Zone: An area with minimal human intervention, made up of characteristic ecosystems where moderate use for scientific reasons was permitted. Use of motors or vehicles in this zone was prohibited.  


Primitive Zone: An area with significant landscape value where only activities in an unaltered environment were permitted. Any activity that would alter the environment was strictly prohibited.  


Recovery Zone: An area whose natural environment had been severely altered or degraded, to the point that planning and implementing restoration actions were needed. Once restored, this zone would be rezoned to one of the other zoning categories. 


Recreation Zone: A natural area that contains outstanding landscapes and resources appropriate for developing relatively intense recreational activities. Road and other visitor-support infrastructure were permitted as long as the area's environment was maintained in its natural state (to the extent possible). 


Service Zone: A small area where infrastructure for administration or interpretation centers were permitted. (26)  


The public use program outlined in the 1990 Master Plan stated that projects and activities should be developed under four sub-programs: (a) Environmental Education, (b) Interpretation, (c) Ecotourism and Recreation, (d) Public Relations and Community Eco-development [Sustainable development].  


Each sub-program has specific objectives with corresponding indicators and baselines that are incorporated in the revised and updated Master Plan, effective from 2003 to 2007.  


The park's buffer zone extends approximately 170,000 hectares. Using existing data from 1977 when it was recognized as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, the 1990 Master Plan established its limits and recently, INRENA has made the description official (in Chief Resolution 317-2001-INRENA on December 13, 2001).




Zoning is defined as a planning tool that facilitates compliance with natural protected area objectives and specific requirements of a natural protected area's category. To be an effective planning and management tool, zoning should in effect help a protected area reach its conservation goals and uses permissible by law within said protected area. Zoning also helps define strategies for managing distinct threats attacking a protected area and above all, helps determine use regulations for each type of zone. Huascarán National Park's current Master Zone defines the following management zones:


Strict Protection Zone


Areas zoned as "strict protection" are spaces where the ecosystems have been greatly or completely undisturbed, or include unique, rare, or fragile species or ecosystems that must be protected from outside influences and require original environmental quality and characteristics for survival. The only activities allowed in these zones are management and environmental monitoring, and under certain circumstances, scientific research. 


The objective of the strict protection zone is to guarantee that Huascarán's key species, special communities and ecosystems can continue to develop and thrive completely free from human influence. Within the park, spectacled bear and vicuña habitats are considered strict protection zones, as are relic forests and puya meadows.


No buildings or service infrastructure is permitted in this zone and pasturing, tourism and recreation are prohibited. The administration promotes research oriented at monitoring native populations or critical ecosystems. No infrastructure-neither administrative nor control-related-is permitted. Certain monitoring equipment, such as meteorological stations, or monitoring plots could be installed with proper justification under a long-term research program. Park personnel or third-party scientists are permitted to conduct such research under specific agreements.
Wildlife Zone


The Wildlife Zone includes areas that have suffered little to no human intervention and maintain their predominant wild character but are less vulnerable than areas included in the strict protection zone. Administrative and control activities are permitted as is research, education, and recreation. However, no permanent infrastructure may be built and motorized vehicles are prohibited.


The wildlife zone's objective is to guarantee that certain key species, and special communities and ecosystems can develop with minimal human influence. To allow the ecosystems and their components to develop, only low or no-impact activities are permitted (regulated tourism and research). Grazing is prohibited. Special management actions are coordinated with the National Cultural Institute to protect archeological sites located in the zone. 


Tourism and Recreation Use Zone 


The tourism and recreation use zone includes areas with attractive landscape features that, because of their nature, are appropriate for recreation and are compatible with the area's objectives. Educational and research activities are permitted and infrastructure for services (lodging, visitor enjoyment), access (roads), and motorized vehicles are allowed.


The objective of the tourism and recreation use zone is to assure that visitors to Huascarán National Park are satisfied, that they are educated, and awareness about the park is raised, thereby guaranteeing conservation of visited sites and resources. 



Restoration Zone


This zone is a transitory zone and includes areas that have suffered major damage (either by natural or human-caused forces) and require special management to restore their quality and environmental stability to later rezone them according to their natural characteristics. 


The restoration zone's fundamental objective is to reverse deteriorating processes on affected ecosystems by implementing actions that will return its original characteristics. Other than actions needed to facilitate the restoration, no activities or uses are permitted in this zone. 


Special Use Zone


The special use zone includes inholdings, or areas occupied by humans prior to the park's declaration. It also includes areas where agricultural, livestock, agrosilvopastoral or other uses have transformed the original ecosystem. 


The objective of the special use zone is to guarantee that traditional uses recognized by the park's administration are conducted in areas with capacity to support such activities in harmony with the interest and general objectives of the protected area.  


In accordance with current legislation, mining exploration/exploitation is permitted in protected areas classified with "indirect use" categories and only when adequate mining rights have been secured before the natural protected area was established. When mining occurs within protected areas included in Peru's National System of Natural Protected Areas (SINANPE), INRENA then becomes responsible for controlling, monitoring, and sampling any mineral exploitation conducted. All current mining concessions must be zoned as special use zone until they end. Active mines are differentiated from abandoned or "passive" mines; the latter are included in restoration zones.  


In addition, tourist lodges built within Huascarán National Park will remain in the special use zone until they comply with the Tourism and Recreation Use Plan and its use regulations and INRENA decides to rezone them to another zoning category. Being part of the special use zone does not imply any operation restrictions other than actions required to come into compliance with the Tourism and Recreation Use Plan. 


Absolutely no camps may be set up in areas declared as "landing fields for aerial rescues and/or emergencies." These sites are established in coordination with the Alpine Rescue Unit of the National Police and are adequately marked. It is up to the park's administration to ensure compliance within the special use zone.  


All homes and family settlements within the park are considered part of the special use zone. In addition, a proposal exists to include 6 meters on each side of the 4 principal highways through the park as part of the special use zone. Any existing roads should be included on park maps and would be considered special use zones regardless of the zoning assigned to surrounding areas outside the 6 m buffer on each side. 


Every inhabitant with use rights within the protected area should be censused and adequately informed of the characteristics, obligations and use limits of the occupied area. Traditional uses are limited to organic agriculture with native species and livestock. This type of agriculture is only possible for families settled within the park on their recognized landholdings, with an upper altitude limit of 4,000 m. Raising livestock is permitted for this demographic group below 4,400 m.  


The Master Plan tries to improve natural resource management in all zones, making it compatible with the protected area's category [National Park] and objectives and is the reason the park's territory has been zoned as it has. The location of special use zones, and the others, will be updated as evaluations of the Plan's implementation produce results that justify changes. (27)


Management Programs


The director of Huascarán National Park confirms that the Master Plan (effective 2003-2007) determines park activities. During our interview, he said:


Management programs and operative plans have been designed. For example, there are reforestation efforts to restore degraded areas using native species, especially polylepis. There is control of tourism activities, not only controlling the visitors but their impacts. Another program is biological diversity monitoring, in which we gather biological information on vegetation, floristic communities, and others. Using UNESCO's methodology, we learn about climate change and changes in floral communities. In collaboration with locals, we round up livestock. There are 62 use committees in the park, all of which were here using pasturelands before the park was declared. Another program is physical-legal territorial ordering, which also includes installing border markers. Another program is control and vigilance, in which we conduct rapid response patrols and ensure that no incident or infraction occurs. There is a program for increasing signage in the area, and there are plans to install of all types of signs, including directional and zoning signs, just to name a few.  


The Plan also addresses infrastructure, investments in the park, control posts, maintenance, and vehicle and equipment purchases among others. The park's communication activities include the communication department and their activities to publicize information about the park so that people understand what it is. They are also responsible for facing political debates about the park and addressing any complaints. Another important activity is environmental education, within the public program; it is transversal because there is environmental education for pasture users, conservation committees, loggers, miners, general population, local governments, and many more. There are also activities related to integrating park planning with regional planning processes, and there is coordination with the regional government. We advise them on natural resource information, watershed management, economic management, and also about volunteer park guard activities. (28


                              Control posts at Llanganuco and Carpa


Resource Conservation Program


General considerations, criteria, and program outline


Even though category of national park only permits indirect uses, during the process to establish Huascarán National Park, direct resource use was recognized as an exception and granted to subsistence farmers traditionally inhabiting the area. The exception was legalized in the park's creation decree and in Ministerial Resolution 01200-80-AA/DGFF, which created and defined Pasture Users Committees. This condition represented a very special management challenge for the park because it had to both maintain the central objectives of its management category [National Park], while also integrating the rural population's demands for development, trying to incorporate the park into a context without structure or planning.


Resource Management Sub-program 


The objectives are: Guarantee conservation of grasslands and forests and associated species through testing and consolidating participatory management models.  


Incorporate local knowledge and cultural values into the strategies and methodologies to protect conservation targets. Reduce impacts on rivers, lagoons, and other sources of water produced by mining activities and securely manage lagoons for electrical energy development. Guarantee conservation of the park's landscape quality. 


Protection Sub-program 


Objective: Consolidate the park's borders, reduce infractions, and discourage potential lawbreakers.  


Public Use Program 


General considerations, criteria, and program outline 


Public use is the second principal objective of all natural protected areas in general and Huascarán National Park specifically. Protected areas offer an opportunity for the public to enjoy an encounter with nature that will enrich them spiritually and increase their knowledge of the natural world. The Education and Tourism Use sub-programs should provide these opportunities and transform the uses into conservation tools by creating constituencies that support Huascarán National Park.


Tourism and Recreation Use Sub-program


Objectives are: Reduce the main impacts of tourism to the extent possible and develop a tourism impact prevention system (prevent garbage accumulation, excess visitors, water contamination, and landscape degradation). Facilitate and direct organized participation among local communities and the private sector to provide tourism services in Huascarán National Park, thereby generating sustainable economic alternatives for local people. 


Education Sub-program 


Objectives are: Strengthen the park's management with proactive support from different user groups who are dedicated to the park and can help protect its natural resources. Strengthen the park's management with a strong constituency base that is convinced and understands its conservation value and are committed to its proper management. 


Management Support Program


General considerations and program outline 


The Management Support Program is conceived as the support needed for other management programs. Of course, the Natural Protected Areas Agency (INRENA) is an essential component to this program because of its continued presence and decision-making and management role, as guided by the Master Plan and park directors. They guarantee that their actions are consistent with INRENA's general directorates related to park management.


Cooperation Sub-program 


Objectives are: Strengthen the management committee to increase their power to support the natural protected area. Integrate Huascarán National Park and its buffer zone. Participatory management of its buffer zone will contribute to conserving biodiversity within the protected area, reduce impacts generated in nearby areas, and offer users real options to manage renewable resources. Convert the buffer zone into a space where interinstitutional coordination is exemplary and where innovative developments would help improve local people's capacity to manage local natural resources and improve their quality of life. Promote participation among related stakeholders in the buffer zone in its environmental land use planning, focusing on water as the primary resource. Generate a diversity of benefits from biodiversity functions in the buffer zone and distribute benefits to a wide range of directly involved stakeholders. Integrate Huascarán National Park actions in regional development activities and create the foundation necessary to truly implement Huascarán Biosphere Reserve.  


Information Sub-program 


Objectives are: Ensure that park administrators have reliable, relevant and opportune information to guide management programs, especially to protect conservation targets in the park. Develop a monitoring system in which conservation progress of conservation targets could be measured and efficiency of different adopted management measures evaluated. Create a support unit that compiles all existing information on Huascarán National Park and Huascarán Biosphere Reserve that would facilitate communication about the park to locals and the international community and that would help administrators and INRENA make appropriate decisions.  


Administrative Sub-program 


Objectives are: Strengthen park administration towards its consolidation as an evolving managerial team. Achieve an infrastructure, vehicle, and equipment maintenance system that will allow staff to carry out its park-related functions and activities. Ensure that management programs have a flow of adequate financial resources.


Financial Sustainability Sub-program 


Objective is: Achieve financial sustainability by implementing mechanisms that will allow the park to take advantage of regional, national, and international funding opportunities to permanently finance Huascarán National Park and its management programs. (29)


Huascarán Work Group


In 1998, the Antamina Mining Company proposed using one of Huacarán's internal routes as its only access route to its center of operations. This generated strong, widespread opposition from many diverse sectors. After negotiating and consulting, the Antamina Mining Company understood the implications of using this route and analyzed other options. The company decided to build a new access road outside of the national park's boundaries. It is within this context that Huascarán Work Group, a multisectoral assemblage made up of governmental agency representatives as well as non-governmental organization members, was born. The Work Group watches out for the interests and conservation of the national park and biosphere reserve. 


Huascarán Work Group is a foundation on which communication and cooperation channels are built and actions coordinated to move towards a common sustainable development vision. It offers an opportunity for public and private institutions to participate. Through proposal generation, stakeholder coordination, and coalition building, stakeholders contribute to Huascarán Biosphere Reserve's sustainability and integrated management. The group seeks to develop capacity, strengthen development processes, and guarantee the industrial sector's participation in sustainable development. It also works to help Huascarán National Park reach financial and institutional sustainability.


Principal members of Huascarán Work Group are:  National Institute of Natural Resources (Instituto Nacional de Recursos Naturales, INRENA), Peru's Committee of the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the Mountain Institute, Pronaturaleza Foundation, Conservation International, CARE-Peru, Peruvian Society of Environmental Law, Regional Government of Ancash, Regional Executive Secretary for Ancash La Libertad del Consejo Nacional de Medio Ambiente (CONAM), Ancash Regional Office of Energy and Mines, Urpichallay Association, Association of the Municipalities of Callejón de Huaylas, Santiago Antunez de Mayolo National University, Antamina Mining Company, Barrick Misquichilca Mining Company, Mitsui Mining & Smelting Co., Pallca Project, Arequipa Mining Company, Toma la Mano Mining Company, Nueva California Mining Company, Ancash Technical Irrigation District, National Cultural Institute, Duke Energy, and Huascarán National Park Management Committee.


During an interview with the group's coordinator, he defined the group in this way, "Huascarán Work Group is a group that seeks to participate in the protected area's management, although the scope is much bigger since we focus our efforts on the entire Huascarán Biosphere Reserve. We try to help the biosphere reserve reach its objectives and help it function as a true biosphere reserve. The group identifies leading environmental problems and through the coalition and dialogue, our members try to discuss alternatives or provide involved, interested parties and stakeholders the chance to talk to one another about the problem and/or possible solutions with researchers and institutions in an effort to minimize impacts generated by activities conducted in the region." (30)


Management Committee


Huascarán National Park has an active management committee. In general, management committees are made up of groups and people involved in protected area matters. Its function is to support a natural protected area according to what is established by law, the protected area system's strategic plan, regulations, and the particular area's master plan. These are not legally established organizations although they can be permanent committees, depending on whether or not it is renewed over time. (31




Peru's natural protected areas are under the management of the Intendencia de Áreas Naturales Protegidas (Natural Protected Areas Agency), Instituto Nacional de Recursos Naturales (National Institute of Natural Resources - INRENA), which belongs to the Ministry of Agriculture.  The Natural Protected Areas Law No. 26834, dated June 30, 1997, and its bylaws regulate the present administration. (32)


There are a total of 13 park guards distributed in 8 control posts: one in Choquepalpa - Pastoruri, one in the eastern zone of Huari province, another in Ultra Valley that goes towards Chacas, and older stations in Querococha, Yuncayhuanca, Llanganuco, Chinancocha and el Corral. There are six professional technicians that oversee activities and programs including a biologist, two environmental engineers, a geographer, one professor, a social communicator, and a forestry engineer who recently quit. There is one administrator and an administrative assistant and two drivers (one doubles as a watchman also). 


In implementing the Master Plan, an administrative center was built and now runs out of the city of Huaraz. In addition, existing infrastructure at Llanganuco and Carpa park guard stations has been improved. Funding for these improvements came from an international aid project called PROFONANPE of the German Development Bank. 


In an effort to use park resources sustainably, Pasture User Committees were formed. At the time of the park's creation, a large number of rural farmers had been using native grasslands in each of the protected area's valleys. Their user rights were recognized in Ministerial Resolution 1200-80-AA/DGFF. Huascarán National Park promoted and carried out the process to organize native pasture users into committees as it responded to the legal regulation and recognition of the park's social and historical context that demands participatory management. 


In order to try to "compensate" for their use of native grasslands, Pasture User Committees are supposed to assume conservation responsibilities. They are obligated to grow tree nurseries stocked with native forestry species that will be used to restore deforested areas within and outside of the park. This organizational model also permits users to engage in control activities (rural farmer park guards) to prevent and control logging, illegal hunting, medicinal and ornamental plant extraction, fires, cattle rustling, and other infractions. (33)  



Huascarán National Park administration is organized in four sectors, defined by logistic facilities and access: Llanganuco sector, Carpa sector, Ichic Potrero sector and Potaca sector. The park's 340,000 hectares are divided into the sectors in the following way: Llanganuco sector (105,462.80 hectares), Carpa sector (97,071.75 hectares), Ichic Potrero sector (79,112.45 hectares) and Potaca sector (58, 353.00 hectares). (34)


Sub-basin Planning Strategies 


The Natural Protected Areas Agency (INRENA) responsible for the park's management and administration has designed a planning strategy for each of the protected area's sub-basins. Under this strategy, user groups should internalize planning principles and fundamentals. The strategy states that there should be a guiding tool for planning, and accurate information about the potential and problems present in each sub-basin should be available. The strategy also seeks to achieve local participation so that the natural resources of each sub-basin are managed sustainably. 


The starting point for the planning strategy is to define the local population's perceived needs and outline experiences of different institutions carrying out productive activities or providing services in each sub-basin and work sectors. The goal is to promote sustainable development of production and service activities that are compatible with stability and respect the environment. 


Planning strategy documents for the sub-basins of Carhuascancha, Huaritambo, Llanganuco, Arma, and others have a reference framework, strategy principles and fundamentals, strategic role, a sub-basin diagnostic and problem identification. (35)  




From the Master Plan's approval in 1990 to 1998, attempts to channel funds for Huascarán National Park failed and the park had to rely only on resources from public coffers (INRENA and Ancash Regional Administration) and collected entrance fees. Recent aid from Germany changed this dismal situation and an operation and investment project good through 2006 was developed. 


Administratively, financial management boils down to budgetary implementation that is approved by specialized INRENA offices within INRENA's national headquarters, and financial reporting of costs according to current regulations per source of funds (funds raised through fees, public coffers, and international aid). The Master Plan's projects and specific plans mandate how the money is managed and interinstitutional efforts to capture additional funds complement the budget. (36)


According to the Master Plan, there are $219,120 US Dollars allotted every year for personnel salaries (for 2005, 2006, and 2007). To have an idea of the magnitude of the amount of funds managed for Huascarán National Park, the table below lists the consolidated costs of management programs and sub-programs, according to what is projected for the last three years of the current Master Plan. (37


In $ US Dollars



Operational budget



Investment budget








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