Protecting Peru’s green spaces

16 July 2019

A man kneels down in front of some plants holding a large paper document.

Ascencio is an environmental defender working to protect the Lomas mountains in Peru, known as Lima’s “green lung”.

“This is one of the very few natural, green spaces and it’s disappearing,” says 41-year-old Ascencio, an environmental activist who lives in the desert city of Lima, Peru. “We need a plan.”

Ascencio is a passionate environmental defender who, despite receiving numerous death threats, remains committed to protecting a chain of mountains on the outskirts of Lima for future generations.

“The mountains are very important because they give us clean air and a huge diversity of flora and fauna,” says Ascencio. “The mountains also protect mudslides from occurring.”

Defending our common home

In spite of their significance, the mountains are under threat. They are located in one of the Peruvian capital’s poorest and most polluted districts. Illegal mining is common here and waste from the mines is often dumped, resulting in severe pollution to the air, water and soil in the local area.

Land trafficking is another hazard. Land is sold illegally to the many people moving to Peru’s capital city from the countryside who are desperate to find a new job and home, putting further pressure on the city’s few green spaces.

Find out more about environmental defenders like Ascensio

We have been working with our local partner CIDAP – People’s Centre for Investigation, Documentation and Advice – to support Ascencio and other community members in protecting the mountains.

“I live here and am very connected to the mountains. That’s why I protect them.”

Ascensio, environmental defender

CIDAP is working alongside community members like Ascencio, the local government, environmental ministries and local universities and schools to carry out a campaign calling for the recognition of Lima’s mountains as a natural protected area.

Ascencio continues to defend the land and fight for its protected status. “I live here and am very connected to the mountains,” he says. “That’s why I protect them.”

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This article has been adapted from the version published in the Catholic Times on 21 June 2019.

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