Potato Park for ecosystem-based adaptation through biodiversity conservation (and safeguarding biocultural heritage)

Published: 04 July 2019
Last edited: 04 July 2019

The Potato Park is a biocultural heritage territory, collectively designed and governed by the communities that live around it. Established in 2002 among six Quechua communities (with 5 still active), the park itself holds over 650 varieties by western scientific classification (or over 1300 by traditional classification), as well as other Andean crops. There are 18 potato varieties resilient to drought and frost, plus one virus-tolerant variety. Thus, the park acts as a gene reserve, and a repository for tools for climate-change resilience. 

 

The park is managed using the traditional aylluvalue system as a model, focusing on protecting the indivisibility and interconnectedness of agrobiodiversity within the park. The governing body, the Association of Communities of the Potato Park, hold the communal land title for the territory. Communities themselves defined the structure and operation of the association, with the support of ANDES, and includes representatives of leadership from each of the five communities covering the park. The association allows the communities to enter into legal agreements and to negotiate effectively as a group regarding any innovations or microbusinesses associated with the park, such as beauty or food products.

Classifications

Category
Co-management building
Sustainable livelihoods
Scale of implementation
Subnational
Phase of solution
Implementation

Enabling factors

  • A repatriation agreement with the International Potato Centre returned 410 locally-adapted potato varieties to the area
  • The communal pooling of land facilitates experimentation; this is especially important since climate change is altering farming conditions, for example pushing up the lower planting line for potatoes, and farmers must adapt
  • To support the park, a Seed Guardians Group has been established and trained in botanical seed production, transects and multiplication

Lessons learned

  • The use of participatory action research in supporting the design and management of the park was central to its success, and facilitated the development of e.g. the equitable benefit sharing agreements, based on customary laws, which underpin biocultural innovation associated with the park
  • In restoring and preserving this region’s biocultural heritage, the Potato Park reduces vulnerability to adverse weather events and disease, thus fostering resilience to climate change challenges. Supporting local agrobiodiversity also helps with maintenance of ecosystem services.