Our investment in the Tropical Andes Hotspot began in January 2001. Based on an ecosystem profile developed to guide our award of grants in this region, we focused on creating connectivity between three distinct protected area complexes to create one of the biologically richest tapestries of life.
The blueprint for the investment strategy was based on the results of workshops where government officials, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) donors and scientists agreed on key threats to be tackled and a common vision for a bi-national biological corridor known as the Vilcabamba-Amboró biodiversity conservation corridor.
Six strategic directions guided our approach:
- Establish effective mechanisms for transboundary coordination, collaboration, and catalytic action.
- Strengthen bi-national coordination of protected area systems.
- Encourage community-based biodiversity conservation and natural resource management.
- Strengthen public awareness and environmental education.
- Strengthen environmental and legal policy frameworks.
- Establish an electronic information exchange, coordinated information, and data-gathering mechanism.
CEPF enabled civil society to play a pivotal role in expanding formal protection to more than four million hectares in Manu National Park, and Alto Purus, Amarakaeri and Apurimac reserves. With this dramatic expansion, connectivity between large tracts of undisturbed forest was realized.
In addition, 17 protected areas, covering more than 20 million hectares, benefited through a variety of management improvements. Several existing protected areas such as Bahuaja Sonene National Park, Madidi National Park and Tambopata-Candamo National Reserve, which together cover more than 3.5 million hectares, benefited from the development of management plans and establishment of co-management committees in which government officials, local communities and NGOs collaborate on management.
An important objective was to demonstrate economic benefits of conservation for people living in and around these protected areas. CEPF supported a wide variety of sustainable enterprises as alternatives to destructive logging, mining and agriculture. Particularly important were grants to the national environmental trust funds in Bolivia and Peru, each of which provided a 1:1 match, to generate a total of $2 million for such enterprises.
In June 2008, we began implementing a seventh strategic direction to reinforce and sustain the gains made possible by our $6.13 million investment. This new strategic direction includes targeted grants to organizations based on a consolidation plan drawing from the ecosystem profile and an assessment of our initial five years of investment.
Several key threats still remain and new ones are emerging, posing profound challenges for the future of biodiversity and people of the region.
For example, under the South American Infrastructure Integration Initiative, the corridor is undergoing dramatic change as petroleum, gas, mining, hydroelectric, canalization, road and other infrastructure projects expand their operations significantly. The sheer scale of these development schemes is transforming the landscape in ways that pose new and major challenges to the integrity of the corridor ecosystem.