Conserving biodiversity in protected areas: building local authority capacities in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru

Project description

Title: Protected areas and other site-based conservation mechanisms at local authority level
Commissioned by: Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB)
Countries: Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru
Lead executing agency: Ministério do Meio Ambiente (MMA)
Overall term: 2016 to 2020

Lomas de Lucumo, Peru. © GIZ / Jens Brüggemann


The biological diversity found in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru is of global significance. There is a clear political will on the part of these four countries to protect and preserve this biodiversity, evident from their ratification of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and from their designation and management of protected areas, mainly at national level. In these countries, protected areas cover between 10 and 25 per cent of national territory.

As part of a comprehensive network, protected areas and other site-based conservation mechanisms at local authority level help to establish and safeguard natural habitat connectivity.

International agreements emphasise the important role of the local authorities in effective biodiversity conservation. However, the legal status of local protected areas and of other conservation mechanisms varies from country to country. In Brazil and Ecuador, protected areas that are designated and managed by the local authorities are generally recognised as part of the national network. In Peru and Colombia, this is not yet the case, although some site-based conservation mechanisms exist at local authority level in these countries too.

The contribution made by local authorities to biodiversity conservation is often not readily apparent due to the limited availability of reliable statistical data on local conservation mechanisms. Local authorities mostly have limited financial and management resources available for the conservation of biodiversity. Their initiatives receive little support and are rarely integrated into planning processes or regional 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 applies particularly in relation to the provision of key ecosystem services such as clean water, recreation and climate resilience.


Better conditions are in place for local authorities in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru to conserve biodiversity through the effective and equitable management of protected areas and other site-based conservation mechanisms.


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


GIZ is implementing the project in partnership with ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, a global network of cities, towns and regions committed to building a sustainable future and protecting the environment, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), an international environmental network comprising numerous government and civil society organisations. The environment ministries in the project countries are the lead executing agencies. The partners work closely with the local authorities and their associations and networks in-country.

The measures build on the experience gained with existing initiatives and adopt a multilevel approach:

  • Developing local government capacities: Lessons learned and existing management and funding mechanisms are systematically identified and used as a basis for developing, adapting and applying appropriate training tools for local authorities. In addition, these authorities receive support in devising local biodiversity strategies and action plans for local protected areas.
  • Embedding local authorities’ role in biodiversity conservation more firmly in legal and institutional frameworks: Based on an analysis of institutional frameworks, appropriate policy recommendations are prepared.
  • Communicating the challenges and benefits of local protected areas and other conservation mechanisms: The importance of the local authorities’ conservation mechanisms is communicated to specific target groups. Lessons learned are disseminated via national and international events and key specialised forums.
Pedra Grande, Parque Estadual da Cantareira, São Paulo. © GIZ / Jens Brüggemann