Trinational Program: Conservation without borders in Putumayo

A landscape made up with conservation and sustainable development: Strengthening a regional system of protected areas and indigenous territories in the trinational Putumayo River basin

The Trinational Program is an initiative of Amazon border integration in the middle basin of the Putumayo River, in three protected areas in Ecuador, Colombia and Peru, that aims to contribute to the conservation of biodiversity and sustainable development in the area, within the framework of multilateral environmental agreements and commitments made by these countries.

The Program aims to have an impact on environmental, public and sectoral policies at national and regional levels, by developing operational, technical and financial tools and mechanisms. There is a Memorandum of Understanding established by the protected areas institutions in the three countries, which serves as the management framework for the Corridor. The first project implemented to support the program is the "Putumayo Tres Fronteras" project.

In this area of the upper and middle Putumayo River basin, several ancient and recent ethnic groups coexist, including the Cofanes, Sionas, Inga, Kamsa, Koreguaje, Huitoto, Nasa, Secoya, Kichwa, Embera-Chamí, Murui, Ingano and Muinane.

In addition, there are significant populations of peasants settled on the banks of the Putumayo river who have strong links with communities in the three countries due to kinship and social mobility resulting from ongoing migration.


A large area in the middle of the Amazon

 The intervention area covers about two million hectares, including three protected areas and their areas of influence: Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve (Ecuador - 600,000 ha), Guepi Reserved Zone (Peru - 625,971 ha) La Paya National Park (Colombia - 422,000 ha).

Benefits for protected areas and their inhabitants

1. The three protected areas in each country at national, regional and local levels.

2. Native communities, indigenous reservations/reserves/councils and their local organizations.

3. Settlers and peasant organizations (cooperatives and/or guilds) in the region.

The project directly or indirectly benefits local populations, including communal authorities and local organizations, which are beneficiaries of participatory, integrated and effective management of adjacent protected areas, but mostly, whose capacities will be built regarding management of their natural resources, management of their communities and leadership in integration processes with nearby populations.

What we hope to achieve

 Integration agreements and technical coordination systems allow an increase in conservation areas, and more effective management and governance of ecosystems in the Amazon.

Economic alternatives on fishery and forestry improved, and economic mechanisms contribute to the improvement of the quality of life and financial sustainability of conservation areas.

Environmental and sectoral public policies value biodiversity, indigenous rights and environmental goods and services.

Teamwork in order to succeed

To implement the project, a team was formed with the three institutions responsible for the administration of public protected areas in the three countries: the Ministry of Environment in Ecuador, the Special Administrative Unit of the National Parks System in Colombia, and the National Service of Natural Protected Areas (SERNANP) in Peru.

These three institutions make up the Board of Directors of the Trinational Program for the Conservation and Development of the La Paya-Guepi-Cuyabeno Corridor (Programa Trinacional de Conservación y Desarrollo del Corredor La Paya-Güepí-Cuyabeno), which is the political authority guiding the development of the project. The program has also a technical authority, consisting of the managers of the three protected areas, which participate in the daily activities planned.

Partners of this effort, lead by WWF Colombia, with support from WWF Germany, include: WWF Peru, the Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Amazon (Asociación Interétnica de Desarrollo de la Selva Peruana - AIDESEP), the Center for the development of the Amazonian indigenous peoples (Centro para el Desarrollo del Indígena Amazónico - CEDIA) in Peru, the Natura Foundation in Ecuador, and Tropenbos in Colombia.

The project develops prioritized activities involving management planning of the three protected areas, as well as integrating regional activities from the various developments in the three countries.

Currently the project is working at the regional level:

Supporting the consolidation of the program's political and technical authorities,
Providing technical elements as to build a Strategic Plan for the Corridor,
Creating the legal basis for a regional strategy for control and monitoring
Identifying regional indicators of management effectiveness for the corridor from the different evaluation mechanisms of the areas
• Identifying opportunities for dialogue between authorities, peasants and indigenous peoples from the three countries, and various exchange activities such as management plans for natural resources.

There is also progress in the planning and implementation of a REDD project in Cuyabeno (Ecuador), which includes capacity building of teams in protected areas and other local stakeholders, as well as dynamizing national and regional opportunities for dialogue to discuss the sectoral issues that threaten the Corridor. In addition, we are advancing capacity building processes in the three protected areas regarding aspects that facilitate their role as environmental authority.

The Putumayo Tres Fronteras Project is implemented with funds from the European Union and WWF Germany. It began operations in 2009 and will run for four years