The Field Museum’s Environment, Culture, and Conservation (ECCo) team works at the intersection of nature and culture, and the results have been powerful. With two new conservation areas this year, our collaborative work in the headwaters of the Amazon has led to nine newly protected expanses of forests in the past nine years, and nine more en route to protection. In 2008 The Boeing Company and Exelon Corporation joined ECCo’s major supporters. This funding is crucial to the success of our efforts.
With the downturn in the economy the opportunity for rapid conservation results grows. Oil, mining, and timber companies are withdrawing from operations in the tropics. Quick, science-based action now will stabilize landscapes with exceptional biological riches, some with indigenous peoples living traditional lifestyles in voluntary isolation. An investment today will allow vulnerable forests to stabilize under conservation management, ensuring that extractive industries settle in less sensitive areas when they return.
ECCo’s rapid social and biological inventories that result in new national parks, regional sanctuaries, and indigenous reserves are an outgrowth of a century of Field Museum expertise. Securing long-term sustainability for these areas so that they survive intact into the next millennia is a newer and tougher challenge for the Museum. One landscape we have invested in—Cordillera Azul—is now the first national park in Peru under legal management by the private sector. In an historic event in July 2008, Peru awarded a 20-year full management contract to CIMA, our Peruvian NGO collaborator.