Ecosystem restoration and protection combined with communal grazing and water use plans aim to reduce vulnerability to the effects of glacial retreat caused by climate change.
The highland glacial mountain ecosystems in Peru are complex constellations of glacier-fed lagoons, lakes, rivers, and grassland. As the steward of majority of the world’s tropical glaciers, Peru will be disproportionately affected by the climate change hazards facing glacier stability. Due to large-scale glacial retreat, lagoons become unstable and increase the risk of landslides and flash floods. The disruption of highland glacial ecosystems further risks the well-being of flora, fauna, humans, and entire ecosystems dependent on them. Therefore, Proyecto Glaciares promotes a community-led initiative advised by scientists and public and private sector actors to develop a sustainable watershed management plan. The initiative manages 200 new lakes, protects and restores wetland by replanting native species, fencing tributaries to restore vegetation, and has established a communal grazing plan to prevent overgrazing. Farmers in the area have also been encouraged to make more sustainable use of water resources.
Climate mitigation benefits for this project have not been quantified or reported. However, empirical literature suggests that restoration of glacial ecosystems through improved water and resource management can reduce land degradation improving a landscape's capacity for carbon storage.
Although not quantified, it is estimated that the improved management and restoration of glacial ecosystems will likely reduce climate-related risks of landslides and flash floods for more than 70,000 people. Furthermore, efforts to increase awareness of climate-related risks as well as the implementation of early disaster warning systems will likely further support communities in adapting to climate-related hazards.
According to Proyecto Glaciares, 143 hectares of wetland and 11 hectares of springs have been restored and protected and 200 new lakes have been formed and are currently sustainably managed. The organisation reports that these interventions have increased available water sources and improved habitats for local wildlife.
Community leadership and management of the project is predicted to strengthen capacity to deal with climate-related hazards. Four women-owned and operated companies have been established to sell coffee, granadilla, honey, and other products.