If you want something done, sometimes you just have to do it yourself.
That was the attitude of a local Bolivian NGO when it set out to protect 1.3 million acres of threatened rain forest
in the Altamachi-Cotacajes region. Rather than turning to the national government to create the park, the group, CIDEDER, took it upon itself.
Explains Director Hans Rocha, "Central governments can take a long time to establish protected areas
, and sometimes don't consider communities
already living in the area. The result is conflict and ineffectively managed protected areas."
With initial support from the World Wildlife Fund
, CIDEDER convinced communities, particularly those living in the proposed protected area, and the local authorities to support the creation of a park. They also convinced the regional government to help finance its creation. "By putting money on the line, the government showed its commitment to making this work," notes Rocha.
Now CIDEDER has teamed with CI-Bolivia and other major NGOs to improve park management and protection, particularly in the north, which is threatened by illegal logging. "CI's role is to integrate established communities into the protected area system, introducing sustainable economic activities
, such as ecotourism
, and modifying agricultural practices," says CI-Bolivia Regional Coordinator Candido Pastor. "This will allow communities on the park periphery to act as a buffer zone for the park's core area."
CI-Bolivia and its partners are also working with SERNAP to have the new protected area turned into a national park, which would afford it more legal protection.
Located between two large, previously established national parks, Altamachi-Cotacajes is an important addition to the Vilcabamba-Amboró corridor. In addition to sheltering extraordinary biodiversity, the region has become a refuge for species north of the range impacted by increasing development.