Sustainable development of Cerro Hoya National Park and of its buffer zone 

The project faced a complex and highly conflictive socio-economic situation that was largely prototypical for much of Latin America's intervention areas: an ecosystem which had traditionally been inhabited and used by man, adjacent populations which had no option but (over)utilising resources due to poverty and for lack of alternative incomes – and limited capacities for law enforcement from the side of state administrations. Other challenges were a lack of secure land titles and the challenge to secure sufficient funding for park management. 

The project reacted by analysing the framework conditions in a holistic manner and conceiving an adapted development strategy. Its approach stepped back from Eurocentric views on what should constitute a nature reserve but grounded in a much more 'Latin American' conception of socio-economic and environmentally sustainable development in the National Park. Interventions included elements of law reform, participatory management, access and benefit sharing and environmental education/ awareness raising. Consent and approval was won among the population by way of a bundle of measures, specifically income generation in the buffer zones through agroforestry and sustainable tourism, but also conflict mediation.

The approaches developed by the project were in the following used as models for other protected area systems in the country and region-wide. The succesful concept of „Integrated Conservation and Development Project“ was used as an example for other projects that included zoning, protected area designation and management.

In the final phase, ECO Consult provided advisory support to Panama's national nature conservation department ANAM on the integrated management of altogether 14 protected areas. The project cited many publications about novel concepts for biodiversity conservation in developing countries.

Time span
1995– 2004       

Commissioning body           
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH

Publication on the project

Impacts and accounts from the context of the programme were compiled by GIZ in the booklet: "La protección de la naturaleza es divertida – Manejo de áreas protegidas y comunicación ambiental: Ideas procedentes de Panamá" (part of the series "La durabilité et ses différents visages"). Download here (Spanish PDF, 3.2 MB/ German PDF, 3.5 MB)

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