The Potato Park - near Cusco, Peru - as an Indigenous Biocultural Heritage Area (IBCHA)
The Potato Park focuses on protecting and preserving the critical role and interdependency of indigenous biocultural heritage (IBCH) for local rights, livelihoods, conservation and sustainable use of agrobiodiversity.
The Park is located in an area known as a microcentre of origin and diversity of potatoes, one of the world’s major food crops which has been protected for centuries by the deeply rooted local food systems of Quechua peoples. The Potato Park, as its name denotes, celebrates the tremendous diversity of native potato varieties and other native Andean crops characteristic of Andean food systems.
The Potato Park is dedicated to safeguarding and enhancing these food systems and native agrobiodiveristy using the adaptive and holistic approach described by the IBCHA model.
In the case of the Potato Park, the epistemological bridges prescribed by the IBCH approach link traditional and science-based understandings of the multiple functions of agricultural biodiversity – including the close interaction between wild and domestic plant and animal diversity – and how they sustain local livelihoods.
The traditional knowledge, innovations, and practices of Quechua peoples are showcased in the Park for their essentially modern significance and utility including for the purposes of nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, biotechnologies, agroecotourism activities, and community-based conservation. In terms of the rights-based approach prescribed by the IBCH approach, the Potato Park is concerned with indigenous peoples’ self determination and securing Quechua people’s tenure and rights to agricultural biodiversity, local products, traditional knowledge, and related ecosystem good and services.
The IBCHA model describes a community-led and rights-based approach to conservation which ensures local livelihoods using the knowledge, traditions, and philosophies of indigenous peoples related to the holistic and adaptive management of their landscapes, ecosystems and biological and cultural assets.
An IBCHA also incorporates the best of contemporary science and conservation models and rights-based governance approaches, including the IUCN’s Category V Protected Areas and Community Conserved Areas (CCAs). As IBCHA, the Potato Park has been proposed as a sui generis system for the protection of traditional knowledge because it aims to protect TK systems within its cultural, temporal and spatial dimensions using a combination of positive and defensive protection tools.
We are more than 6000 people in six qeswa communities: Sacaca, Chawaytire, Kuyo Grande, Pampallaqta, Paru Paru and Amaru. All the projects are administrated collectively by the six communities to ensure the effective participation and sharing of benefits.
Legally, the communities form part of an Association of Communities of Potato Park, which is the communal administrative body of the Park.
This Association forms the Park’s internal organization with rules and regulations to exploit our environment and natural resources. We apply Andean principles of duality, reciprocity and balance. To protect our rights and in our role as a center of potato origin and diversity, the Park’s communities promote environmentally sustainable agriculture.