Article by the UN Environment Programme: Ambitious project to restore Andean forests

Growing at altitudes of up to 5,000 metres, polylepis forests, comprising 28 recognized shrub and tree species endemic to the mid- and high-elevation regions of the tropical Andes, are a significant origin of the flow of water into the headwaters of the Amazon.

Crucial to fighting climate change, they absorb mist from the clouds, transforming dry, eroded landscapes into wetlands and habitat for threatened species.

Due to decades-long deforestation for fuel wood and grazing, only 500,000 hectares remain across the Andes. Now High Andean communities, mainly Quechua-speaking Inca descendants, are coming together to bring them back and restore their watersheds.

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