Creation of national protected areas in the Bolivian Pantanal
In 1997, the Prefecture for the Department of Santa Cruz and the Noel Kempff Mercado Museum of Natural History, recognizing the environmental, social and economic value of the Pantanal, and in compliance with what was established in the Land Use Plan (Plus), promoted the necessary research and studies, with support from WWF, for the declaration of two national protected areas (Otuquis and San Matías).
Since then, WWF has continued supporting the management of these two protected areas, including their institutional strengthening and facilitating the participation of the Pantanal inhabitants in its management.
Declaration of the Bolivian Pantanal as a Ramsar site
The richness of this wetland and the diversity in terms of its fauna allowed the Bolivian Government, with support from WWF, to designate its entire surface area in Bolivia as a Ramsar site in 2001, recognizing it as a wetland of international importance. The 3.2 million hectares of the Bolivian Panantal represent the fourth largest Ramsar site worldwide.
The Ramsar site designation commits the national government in developing policies and actions aimed at harmonizing sustainable development with conservation in the Pantanal, as well as promoting the use and rational management of the ecoregion’s natural resources.
Creation of the Association of Municipalities of the Bolivian Pantanal
WWF supported the conformation and strengthening of three participatory municipal forums on local sustainable development planning: the Local Economic Development Commissions (referred to as Codel) in the municipalities of Puerto Quijarro, Puerto Suárez and San Matías. As a result of this joint effort with the Codels, the Association of Municipalities of the Bolivian Pantanal emerged and received further support from WWF for the following two years.
Communication and education in favor of the Pantanal
WWF believes in using information as a key and strategic tool for responsible and lasting development for the region. Under this framework, we have produced and distributed diverse informative and educational materials, such as collectible sticker albums, school notebooks, coloring books and story books. We have also undertaken other types of educational activities: radio programmes, improving school infrastructure and implementing mini-libraries in more than 20 schools, refurbishment and equipping the district educational office, among others.
Development and application of a Pantanal educational curriculum
As of 2003, and as a result of a participatory process with teachers and educational authorities in the region, an educational curriculum for the environment was developed for elementary school children.
As a result of this process, there are now 160 trained teachers, who are not only recognized in the region but also actively working as conservation agents, demonstrating their leadership and role as opinion shapers regarding environmental issues.
The curriculum, which was approved in 2005 by the Ministry of Education and supported by the Prefecture of the Department in 2006 as a formal educational instrument environmentally contextualized, is in the process of being implemented and receives permanent follow-up. Parallel to this, a similar curriculum is being developed for high school students.
Developing a technical foundation for sustainable development
WWF has also been working so that development in the Pantanal is carried out in a more organized and planned manner, and has been providing timely information and technical support to help in sustainable development decisions in the ecoregion. Below are some of the most outstanding achievements:
- Publication of the “Puerto Busch Study: Options for the location of a sovereign port on the Paraguay-Paraná River System”
- Support in the creation and functioning of an environmental and natural resource unit within the municipal government of Puerto Quijarro
- Development of the Municipal Plan on Land Use Regulation (PMOT) for San Matías (in process)
- Identification and prioritization of ecosystems and species, sub-watersheds and headwaters of the Paraguay River watershed; data collection and systematization of spatial information on the ecoregion; analysis of the frequency and impact of fire in the ecoregion, with emphasis on protected areas.
WWF has promoted the use of sustainable practices aimed at improving productive and/or commercial activities, and, with this, the quality of life of local population. Such is the case of fishing management, and for which results can be seen in a fishing cooperative which now has the capacity for self-management and has even developed guidelines for fishing management so as to ensure the sustainability of this activity.
Considering that cattle ranching is one of the most important activities in the ecoregion, WWF has worked in providing information and technical training on sustainable cattle ranching and has been able to reach approximately 100 individuals form 20 communities in the Ángel Sandóval province, as well as trained 57 young adults as skilled cattle ranchers.
Aware that tourism is an important potential for the Pantanal, WWF has contributed to the development of municipal strategies for tourism in Puerto Quijarro, Puerto Suárez and San Matías, based on the identification of local attractions and indicating priority areas to be developed. Training and awareness activities were also provided.
Ecoregional trans-boundary planning for the Cerrado-Pantanal
One of WWF’s strengths is developing trans-boundary action for conservation and sustainable development in globally important regions. In 2008, WWF’s Pantanal Programme in Bolivia and Brazil jointly worked on an ecoregional plan following WWF’s Programme and Project Management Standards (PPMS). This complex and detailed process included consultations with specialists and an analysis of achievements and impacts during the last two years. Key conservation objects that sustain the Pantanal’s value worldwide were considered, as well as the threats that jeopardize the conservation of these objects and the drivers which allow these threats to occur. This coordination between both countries has led to the development of a work plan for 2009–19.