Management of protected natural areas and buffer zones

Project description

Title: Management of protected natural areas and buffer zones
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Bolivia
Lead executing agency: Bolivian Ministry for the Environment and Water (Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Agua)
Overall term: 1999 to 2011


Bolivia is extremely rich in terms of biological, cultural and habitat diversity. However, this diversity is severely threatened. The people living in those regions with the greatest biodiversity are among the poorest in the country. Additional threats are mainly posed by commercial interests in the exploitation of woodland, the cultivation of coca and the extraction of oil and natural gas. Natural resources and ecosystems are therefore exposed to intensive pressure.

Over the last decade, administrative reforms have included land reform, municipalisation and citizen participation, creating new opportunities for social involvement in the management of protected areas and natural resources. The project has made an important contribution to the implementation of appropriate concepts. So far, given the country’s political instability and the institutional weaknesses that characterise the governmental body whose role is to protect natural reserves, the advanced concepts and strategies have only been partially implemented. Local organisations are poorly coordinated, and the National System of Protected Areas (Sistema Nacional de Áreas Protegidas – SNAP) is still inadequately integrated into the local, regional and national development context.


The integration of individual protected areas into the development process at local, regional and national levels has sustainably strengthened the ‘National System of Protected Areas’. Conflicts of interest have been reduced, and environmental protection has been geared to the country’s social, political and economic realities.


In cooperation with SERNAP (Servicio Nacional de Areas Protegidas), the responsible national authority, efforts are being made to integrate the protected areas socially and economically into their socio-economic setting. The advisory measures focus primarily on citizen participation and on attempts to improve incomes through the creation of a local economic infrastructure based on the sustainable use of biodiversity resources and tourism. These measures are complemented by investment through the Biodiversity and Protected Areas (BIAP) programme, which is cofinanced by the KfW Entwicklungsbank. Communication resources and training measures make a decisive contribution to these processes.

The project is active in six protected areas:

  • In Sajama National Park and the Apolobamba Protected Area in Bolivia’s highlands, assistance is provided to local people in their efforts to generate an income from the sustainable use of vicuña wool (a wild relation of the lama) and to develop local tourism.
  • In the Tariquia Reserve in the southern Yungas region, the project is involved in honey production.
  • The population of the Indigenous Territory of Isiboro Sécure in the tropical lowlands is being advised on the sustainable farming of crocodiles, organic cacao cultivation and municipal forest management.
  • In the Amazonian Reserve of Manuripi, the main focus of the project is on the sustainable exploitation of natural rubber.

The experience gained from working in the individual regions flows into the development of policies, standards and instruments such as strategic development plans for the entire system of protected areas.

For the most part, the delivery of project commitments has been sub-contracted to the GFA Consulting Group.

Results achieved so far

The measures taken as part of this project are helping to create a new and more constructive relationship between government bodies and those involved from local societies in the protected areas. In turn, this is helping to consolidate the management of protected areas.

  • Models have been developed to demonstrate how biodiversity resources can be exploited on a sustainable basis by local people.
  • Around two thousand families living in the protected areas have improved their income as a result of measures to stimulate the local economy.
  • There has been an improvement in the policy and legal framework for the management of protected areas, particularly with respect to official cooperation in efforts to incorporate issues affecting protected areas into the new constitution.
  • Concepts and instruments have been introduced to support the management of protected areas. These predominantly include methods of strategic planning and monitoring.
  • A long-term, strategic development plan has been devised for the entire system of protected areas. It is intended to provide a foundation that will also guide the efforts of other aid providers.
  • As part of a wider drive to strengthen territorial and particularly indigenous rights, the project has helped to establish structures, skills and resources so that local people can play an active part in the management of protected areas.