The regional government of Cusco and ACCA, the Asociación de Conservación de la Cuenca Amazónica, initiated a plan for a regional conservation area known as Ausangate in 2008. But only in August of this year will it be presented to the National Government for approval – helped we assume by the fact that it includes the controversial Rainbow Mountain. The area now proposed covers 810 square kilometers, and is aimed at important conservation issues. The area is crucial for the conservation of vicuñas and other animals, and many plants. It also includes the glacier known as the Quelccaya Ice Cap, retreating at 60 metres a year, having lost 25% of its area in the last 50 years.
The length of time it has taken for the proposal even to surface for decision illustrates vividly the difficult political economy of conservation. The proposal was initially delayed by the fact that the issue was simply not a priority in the regional government, and by heavy bureaucracy. When the required process of prior consultation was finally launched in 2017, many diverse issues and distrust made the process hard. There was much distrust: a lawyer working with the directorate of Prior Consultation, Emerson Alata, says that people who had received their land under the agrarian reform in the 1970s and 1980s still feared that landowners would come and take back the land (interview cited by Mongabay). There was fear too that the tourist income some are now receiving from the Rainbow Mountain would now be managed by the regional government. The original proposal included 14 centres of population: by the time of the consulta previa, only nine were still included. Eventually, only two have agreed to be part of the conservation area. The area in question has been reduced from the original 1300 square kilometers to just 810 square kilometers.