Behind the Lens of Healthy Forests for Healthy People: Canoeing through Floating Vegetation in Peru

By Climatelinks

This blog series features interviews with the winners of the 2020 Climatelinks Photo Contest. This photo, submitted on behalf of Peru’s USAID Pro-Bosques Activity, is available on the Climatelinks Photo Gallery.

Can you tell us the story behind the photo, such as the man in the photo and how it was captured? 

The young man is one of the roughly 2,000 inhabitants of the Junín Pablo indigenous community in the Amazonian region of Ucayali. The Imiría Regional Conservation Area is rich in biodiversity in its forests and wetlands, including a diversity of species that neighboring communities can fish to subsist. It is common for residents to go out to the Imiría Lake, set traps for fish at dusk, and come back to collect the fish at dawn. The floating vegetation in the photo, locally known as tamalones, is a preferred spot for fish to hide from predators or find shade, so setting traps in these areas usually guarantees success. 

The photo was captured whilst visiting the Imiría Regional Conservation Area in January 2020. The Activity is working with some of the lake’s neighboring communities on diverse topics including sustainable forest management, which includes supporting the Regional Environmental Agency in the strengthening of sustainable fishery management plans. 

As the submitter, what does this photo mean to you?

This photo represents the very special relationship indigenous communities have with the forest. This photo invites us to ask ourselves: how much do we really know about our forests? What does a day in the life of a forest dependent person look like? When people think about problems with forests, some top-of-mind thoughts include deforestation, carbon sinks, forest fires, greenhouse gas emissions, and perhaps even palm-oil crops or other monocrops that are the main cause of deforestation. But sometimes we fail to see the human component in forests, the struggles and challenges their inhabitants face, their cultural and social richness, and what we can learn from them to take better care of our world. I hope this photo can help in bringing the Amazonian forest closer to people. 

This year’s theme was “Healthy Forests for Healthy People.” Tell us more about how your photo relates to the theme.

The Imiría Lake is known for its current health. But for a long time, it was not healthy. In the early 2000s, activities such as illegal logging and overfishing took place in this area, resulting in the destruction of ecosystems and the depletion of forest resources. It was not until 2009 that a fishing ban was effectively enforced, with the goal of protecting the wetland’s ecosystem and the area’s scenic beauty. It became a National Conservation Area in 2010. In this particular case, there is a direct causality between healthy forests and healthy people. When taking care of the forests, we also look out for its dependents, which are traditionally underserved, vulnerable populations.

How does this photo show the climate-related benefits resulting from that work?

This photo draws attention to the more than 450,000 families in the Peruvian Amazon that depend on natural systems for their livelihoods. Many of these communities are seeing their forests lost to illegal logging and the expansion of smallholder farming. As these activities degrade forests and reduce their biodiversity, they also contribute to greenhouse gas emissions from the nearly 7 billion metric tons of carbon stocks stored in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest. USAID Pro-Bosques works to advance sustainable forest management by strengthening forest sector governance and promoting the legal timber harvest and increasing forest sector competitiveness, as well as empowering Indigenous communities, like Junín Pablo, through sustainable forest practices that can improve their livelihoods.

The Climatelinks community is encouraged to submit new photos to the gallery through this submission form.

Strategic Objective
Adaptation, Integration, Mitigation
Biodiversity, Carbon, Conflict and Governance, Forestry, Food Security and Agriculture, Gender and Social Inclusion, Health, Indigenous, Sustainable Land Management, Natural Resource Management, Sustainable Landscapes, Water and Sanitation
Latin America & Caribbean



Climatelinks is a global knowledge portal for USAID staff, implementing partners, and the broader community working at the intersection of climate change and international development. The portal curates and archives technical guidance and knowledge related to USAID’s work to help countries mitigate and adapt to climate change. 

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