Creating Consciousness: A campaign to clean, recover and protect Los Calambucos Valley

Featured, Mountain Protection

Since entering the UIAA Mountain Protection Award platform in 2016, the Mountain Cultural Center, or CCM in its abbreviation in Spanish (Centro Cultural de Montaña), from Arequipa, Peru, has been making consistent and promising steps towards mountain protection, steadily fulfilling their goal of linking the different mountain recreation and tourism locales for conservation within regions in Arequipa and in Peru. In so doing, they continue to grow a network of key mountain recreation and tourism areas that foster and promote sport as development at the individual and community level, incorporating a key environmental ethos. Here, CCM Director Michel Obando, proudly shares with us news of a recent clean-up event at one of the of their key focus areas for responsible recreation and tourism, Los Calambucos, in Arequipa, Peru.

Calambucos, located 25 minutes drive from the centre of Arequipa, at the lookout of the Independencia area of the Alto Selva Alegre district, is an area with a great geographic potential for ecotourism and adventure sports, but which until recently did not count with due protection and promotion as a viable area for recreation and conservation. About a year ago, thanks to the initiative of the District Municipality of Alto Selva Alegre, a process was started with us at CCM for the long-awaited project of recovery, protection and cleaning up of the creek at Los Calambucos, where a second clean-up event was held on 14 October 2017, with the participation and disposition of Mr. Mayor Omar Candia and other authorities of the District, including also the Youth Council of Arequipa, the Municipal Youth Volunteering Group, Vertigo SAC, CCM and different youth organizations such as the Environmental University Network, CoraSonrie, among others. This signalled to us a great commitment and motivation to protect this magnificent natural space, motivating us to work towards declaring it an “Eco Tourist Reserve Zone”. Given its high tourism potential, it is also envisaged that educational projects on conservation of natural areas be developed in conjuction, thereby provide an opportunity to jointly promote sustainable and responsible adventure sports, cultural activities and tourism.

The project, as the name suggests, consists of clean-up campaigns in the creek of Calambucos, given that unfortunately many people go there to dump household waste. However, despite a reduced incidence of waste dumping recently, other problems were also noticed, such as potentially illegal settlements springing up that are encroaching into the natural space and create additional waste management issues. For this reason, the project’s concept has been expanded to work with the local authorities and declare this zone of Calambucos as a reserve area for its preservation, converting the area into an eco-park for recreation and tourism that all Arequipeños can enjoy. Next on our agenda, is to plan for a conservation festival and clean-up event again in March 2018, to commemorate this collaboration and broadened scope of our project.

At Calambucos, Alto Selva Alegre has in its territory ten natural rock-climbing sites and crags to be visited and in need of conservation, as well as the second highest point in Peru to practice bungee or “rope jump”, with a drop of approximately 85 meters, the space is ideal to enjoy an afternoon with family and / or friends, play sports, and immerse in the great view that this beautiful Arequipa area offers, and get out of the chaos and stress that the city, work and routine that affects the inhabitants of the “white city”.

Together with the Provincial Youth Council, Vertigo SAC, CCM, young sports enthusiasts, volunteers, and the District Municipality of Alto Selva Alegre, as well as through the inspiration and recognition given to us by being a part of the UIAA’s Mountain Protection Award platform, we have all assumed a commitment to protect and promote this location, inviting the community and visitors from abroad to visit and learn about this splendid outdoors space.

As well as being an annual prize with benefits both for the Award winner and all nominated projects, the ethos of the UIAA Mountain Protection Award is to maintain relationships with all showcased projects throughout their lifespan. Support is provided both in terms of promotion through the UIAA’s international network and by utilising the expertise and guidance of the UIAA Mountain Protection Commission.

The 2018 UIAA Mountain Protection Award application opens in March.

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