Protected areas and other area-based conservation measures at the level of local governments

Project description

Title: Protected areas and other area-based conservation measures at the level of local governments
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU)
Countries: Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Peru
Lead executing agency: Environment ministries in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru
Overall term: 2016 to 2022

Lomas de Lucumo, Peru. © GIZ / Jens Brüggemann


Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru want to preserve their biodiversity. All four countries have ratified both the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and have also designated national protected areas: These countries have placed between ten and 25 per cent of their respective national territories under protection.

The local protected areas and other area-based conservation measures contribute to the sustainable preservation of natural habitats. Local governments in the four countries have already implemented site-based conservation measures. However, the legal status of local protected areas varies from country to country. Brazil and Ecuador recognise protected areas that are designated and managed by the local governments as part of the national protected area system. So far, this is not the case in Peru and Colombia.

The contribution made by cities and municipalities to biodiversity conservation is often not readily apparent. Financial resources for the conservation of species are limited. The initiatives are rarely integrated into planning processes or spatial development strategies. There is also a lack of knowledge and awareness of the importance of protected areas and conservation mechanisms for local sustainable development. This is particularly true for the provision of key ecosystem services such as drinking water, local recreation and protection against disasters caused by climate change.


Better conditions are in place for cities and municipalities in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru to conserve biodiversity through the effective and equitable management of protected areas and other area-based conservation measures.

Parque Metropolitano Pituaçu, Salvador da Bahia. © GIZ / Jens Brüggemann


The project is being implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. The implementing partners are the global network Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The executing agencies are the environment ministries of the participating countries. The project works closely with the cities and municipalities and their associations and networks in the respective countries.

The measures build on the experience gained from existing initiatives and target three areas:

Developing local government capacities: Lessons-learned and the funding and management instruments are used systematically and deployed for developing, adapting and implementing appropriate training tools for local government actors. 

Embedding cities and municipalities’ role in biodiversity conservation more firmly in legal and institutional frameworks: Based on an analysis of general institutional conditions, appropriate policy recommendations are prepared so that representatives of the cities and municipalities and their associations participate in the national working groups and thus contribute to the planning and implementation of project measures. 

Communicating the challenges and benefits of local protected areas and other conservation mechanisms: The importance of the local governments’ conservation measures is communicated to the target groups.


At the project's regional conferences in São Paulo (2017), Quito (2018) and Lima (2019), the local governments consulted one another and shared experiences. This resulted in the efforts of the four countries' environment ministries to improve the legal and institutional framework being highlighted and acknowledged.

In Brazil, six municipalities have received training in methods for the 'Integration of Ecosystem Services (ISE)' and management of the local protected areas. The city of Florianópolis has applied this methodology in its land use planning in order to protect and restore the Atlantic rainforest. The Brazilian municipalities already use the guidelines and instructions supported by the project. They include the 'Guideline for establishing local protected areas', a step-by-step manual for facilitating the creation and management of local protected areas, and the 'Proteja' portal with information about the Brazilian 'Ecological VAT' as well as Portuguese editions of 'Urban protected areas' and 'Management of Tourism and Visitors in protected areas'.

In Colombia, the project working group has helped achieve recognition of the so-called ‘complementary nature conservation strategies’ and supported the publication ‘Voces de la gestión territorial’. Municipalities have been involved in discussions on the design of regional protected area systems. The existing urban protected area systems have been catalogued. These experiences have fed into the new protected areas policy drawn up by the Ministry of Environment. 

In Ecuador, the provisions of the new environmental legislation have been developed. They regulate the legal status of the protected areas and other local protection measures. This provides better conditions for the decentralised autonomous governments to establish and administer their own protected area subsystems. The municipalities report that recognition of the Chocó Andino de Pichincha biosphere reserve supported by the project promotes communication between different interest groups and creates alliances and opportunities for collaboration.

In Peru, guidelines for identifying further local protection measures have been created as part of sustainable land use planning. The collected experiences are incorporated into the CBD discussion on the systematisation and recognition of additional effective area-based conservation measures through a task force of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas.

Last update: March 2021

Pedra Grande, Parque Estadual da Cantareira, São Paulo. © GIZ / Jens Brüggemann