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The Walt Disney Company has bought $3.5 million in carbon credits to prevent the destruction of a jungle in the country's Amazon.
The Alto Mayo forest -- home to 1,500 settlers -- spans 180,000 hectares in Peru's northeast department of San Martin and contains 23 species of endangered flora and fauna.
"The objective Disney shares is to slow down the pace of deforestation in the protected natural area, which has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the country," said Luis Espinel, director of the NGO Conservation International that manages the forest.
The project, started in 2009, was approved this year by the National Service for Protected Natural Areas (Sernanp) and led to Disney's purchase of the carbon credits through a carbon emissions reduction program, said Pedro Gamboa, the service's head.
In total, Disney paid $3.5 million for 437,500 voluntary credits at a price of $8 per credit, far more than their value on the international markets, Gamboa said. Each credit is equivalent to one ton of captured carbon, he said.
Disney is using the credits as offsets to carbon emissions from its global entertainment operations, Espinel said.
It chose to target the Alto Mayo forest because of the area's rich biodiversity coupled with its vulnerability to encroachment by settlers.
The money will go to increase the number of rangers protecting the forest, and to fund conservation agreements with local coffee growers and other farmers that provide them with advice and technical assistance on condition that they not clear the forest.
"We have signed 240 agreements with as many families to become allies in the fight against the burning and destruction of the area," Espinel said.
International agencies have certified that deforestation and degradation, caused by settlers, generates 2.8 million tons of carbon because of the cutting down and burning of trees, he added.
Sernanp chief Gamboa emphasized that "the only way of protecting the forest is to sign partnerships with communities, giving them technical alternatives so that they have income and understand that they benefit from protecting the area."
Conservation International has a five year contract, renewable for 20 years, to manage the Alto Mayo project.
Espinel said the NGO would look for other companies to buy credit following the agreement with Disney.