It isn’t difficult to understand why a remote Bolivian or Peruvian community
might reject conservation efforts. In the past, many protected areas in these countries have placed restrictions on hunting and agriculture, while allowing energy and mining companies to pump oil and extract minerals. “To local people, it has looked like conservation only helps big business,” says Eduardo Forno, CI-Bolivia executive director.
Debunking such misperceptions while raising conservation awareness in the two countries were the primary goals of a recent CI-led communications campaign in the region. Anchored by the 26-minute documentary video “Tesoros Sin Fronteras,” or “Treasures Without Borders,” the campaign spotlighted the biological and cultural wonders of the 74-million-acre, binational Vilcabamba-Amboró conservation corridor, while showcasing the economic opportunities made possible by preserving key areas. These include ecotourism
and organic coffee enterprises that are already helping remote communities in the region realize economic benefits from conservation.
“The documentary explores the riches of the corridor from the Andes’ snow-covered peaks to the mineral-rich clay licks in the Amazon that attract thousands of macaws and parrots,” says Haroldo Castro, the film’s director and CI Global Communications vice president. “The production carries a message of hope—that conservation and development are compatible. Bolivians and Peruvians should be proud to be the guardians of these natural and cultural treasures.”
Media coverage in both countries reflects the success of the campaign. An estimated 3.8 million people—more than 10 percent of the combined population of both countries—viewed the documentary on television after its launch in the two countries. In Bolivia alone, local newspapers ran the equivalent of 40 full pages on corridor issues, while local television and radio stations devoted more than 13 hours of airtime.
“The coverage was rich, varied, and very informative,” says Forno. “They presented and discussed the video, debated the issues, and talked frankly about the feasibility of conservation in the corridor. It really has been a breakthrough.”
As a follow-up, CI’s Bolivian and Peruvian programs have launched long-term campaigns that include distributing the video throughout the region. During three weeks in May, all three major airports in Bolivia screened the documentary an average of 10 times daily at their boarding gates. Other targets include buses, where videos will be played for travelers, and small local television stations in towns along the corridor. Says Forno, “Where there is a video player and a power source we want there to be a copy of ‘Tesoros.’”