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Pumping money into protected areas

Establishing and maintaining protected areas requires money, especially so when they are large and difficult to access.
But in Latin American countries, resources are scarce, funding is tight and conservation is often not a top priority. WWF seeks to fill this gap.

Across the Amazon, WWF has helped create a number of instruments to ensure that funding is not a limiting factor in protecting Amazon biodiversity. The organization is also carrying research to investigate which legal and policy instruments could be used to finance protected areas.

Amazon Region Protected Areas (ARPA) programme

A momentous undertaking is under way to transform the conservation landscape in the Brazilian Amazon. The Amazon Region Protected Areas (ARPA) programme aims to ensure comprehensive protection for 12% of the Brazilian Amazon. That's about twice the size of the United Kingdom, and 50% more than the US National Park System.

To reach this ambitious objective, the development of ARPA involves setting up a trust fund – a massive bank account that will generate profits to be used for protected areas over the long-term.
Find out more

Debt-for-Nature (DNS) swaps…

Indebted countries can sometimes turn their plight to their advantage, or more specifically, to the benefit of their natural environment.

DNS swaps are financial transactions where debt owed by a developing country is reduced or converted by the creditor in exchange for guaranteed payments towards conservation goals by the debtor country.

…in Peru

Such a mechanism has allowed Peru to cancel its debts to the US, and direct its dues to conservation. This has ensured the availability of long-term funding for the creation and effective management of selected priority National Protected Areas System (SINANPE) sites in Peru.

WWF's contribution of $366,667 to this debt swap (of which Conservation International’s Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund covers US$200,000) will generate US$3.5 million in local currency over a period of 12 years (2002- 2014).

WWF-Peru has selected three protected areas within the Vilcabamba-Amboro Corridor and the Southwestern Amazon Moist Forests Ecoregion as priority areas to receive funding from this financial arrangement.

The areas are:
  • Manu National Park
  • Amarakaeri Communal Reserve
  • Alto Purús National Park and Purús Communal Reserve

In these areas, grants have been awarded to Peruvian NGOs to carry out activities related to the creation and/or effective management of the protected areas.

An oversight committee composed of one member each from the US Government, Government of Peru, Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy and WWF reviews proposed conservation projects on bi-annually basis and approves the award of a limited number of grants.

…in Colombia

Colombia's second debt-for-nature swap (2004) allows the investment of at least US$10 million over the next 12 years to protect nearly 44,515 km² of its tropical forests.

Under the agreement, the U.S. Department of the Treasury contributes US $7 million to the deal, while an additional total of US $1.4 million is provided by Conservation International's (CI) Global Conservation Fund, The Nature Conservancy and WWF.

Colombia will use half the funds toward financing local environmental organizations that are working in selected areas. The other half will go toward the Heritage Trust, which the government expects to use to leverage additional loans of up to US $40 million that will guarantee the long-term financial sustainability of Colombia's existing protected areas.

Taxing for conservation

WWF is looking at taxation systems that could benefit Brazilian states that have many protected areas, and hence less economic activity. Currently, the ICMS (a type of value added tax on goods and services, part of which is redistributed to municipalities as a function of each municipality's activity) penalizes states that have many protected areas. WWF is advocating for the adoption of an ecological ICMS, which includes an additional criterion for redistribution of ICMS applied to compensate municipalities where there is restricted land use.

How does it work?

The ecological ICMS acts as a fiscal compensation mechanism, based on the "Protector-Receives" principle. It encourages municipalities to support the creation of conservation areas and to adopt sustainable development policies. It also rewards municipalities that have protected areas on their territory and thus cannot carry out traditional economic activities.

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Amazonian tropical rainforest landscape seen from the inselberg in the Nouragues Nature Reserve. ... 
© WWF / Roger LeGUEN
Amazonian tropical rainforest landscape seen from the inselberg in the Nouragues Nature Reserve. French Guiana
© WWF / Roger LeGUEN