Conserving biodiversity in Chiapas natural protected areas through an innovative financial mechanism

JorgeSilva
Published: 26 September 2018
Last edited: 02 October 2020
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Summary

Conservation of natural resources in Mexico is a great challenge, especially since the budget of the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas is reduced every year. This is where finance from private sources becomes crucial for the effective management and operation of protected areas.

This is why El Triunfo Conservation Fund (FONCET) was created: a financial mechanism to support El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve, one of the most important protected areas in Mexico.

FONCET was planned with a strong local participation on mind, and to this date is one of its main characteristics. Local citizens really committed with Chiapas’ conservation are part of the board and the financial committee, which have made possible strategic alliances that allow new ways of financing.

Its efficient way of work drew attention of other protected areas that requested support to finance conservation actions. This way FONCET became a regional fund, currently supporting 5 natural protected areas in Chiapas.

 

 

Classifications

Region
North America
Scale of implementation
Local
Ecosystem
Agro-ecosystem
Agroforestry
Cropland
Forest ecosystems
Tropical evergreen forest
Theme
Adaptation
Ecosystem services
Local actors
Mitigation
Protected and conserved areas management planning
Sustainable financing
Sustainable livelihoods
Watershed management
Challenges
Land and Forest degradation
Unsustainable harvesting incl. Overfishing
Lack of access to long-term funding
Physical resource extraction
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Unemployment / poverty
Sustainable development goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 6 – Clean water and sanitation
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 15 – Life on land
SDG 16 – Peace, justice and strong institutions
SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 10: Ecosystems vulnerable to climate change
Target 11: Protected and conserved areas
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 20: Mobilizing resources from all sources
Sendai Framework
Target 2: Reduce the number of affected people globally by 2030
Target 3: Reduce direct disaster economic loss in relation to GDP by 2030

Location

Chiapas, Mexico
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Challenges

  • Deforestation due to unsustainable agricultural practices

  • Low awareness in local people about environmental services: local communities need to be aware of the importance of their natural capital and how to manage it sustainably

  • Lack of funding for conservation activities: this solution seeks to fill the gap that exists in government funding to manage protected areas that is generally insufficient and untimely

  • Public policies promote unsustainable practices: influencing public policies so the government promotes sustainable productive activities

  • Contradictory public policies: it is necessary that public policies are aligned so conservation of natural capital is not impaired

  • Uncoordinated inter institutional efforts: coordination of stakeholders and institutions working in the region is a key component of the solution

  • Lack of opportunities for young people: training and supporting young people so they can implement an economic sustainable project is also a key aspect in the solution

Beneficiaries

  • Local rural communities in five protected areas
  • Urban communities 
  • National Commission of Natural Protected Areas
  • Local NGO's 

 

How do the building blocks interact?

Main building blocks are:

  1. Strong procedures

  2. Local Financial Committee

  3. Partnerships

  4. Monitoring, Evaluation & Communication Strategies

These blocks are related to each other and allow the solution to be successful. Strong procedures allow FONCET to be transparent and efficient and have a strong influence on every other block. Local financial committee attracts new donors and supervise the activities and expenses of FONCET, and is also ruled by the procedures. Partnerships with local governments, NGO’s, donors, foundations, and local communities help FONCET to have greater impact in conservation as well as interchange knowledge that strengthen the partnerships. Monitoring and evaluation is implemented not just for the activities and results in conservation but also for the partnerships, financial committee, staff and procedures that allow making the necessary adjustments in any of these aspects. Communication strategies help FONCET to communicate its results to different audiences attracting different types of possible donors but also communicating actions done by the other blocks.

 

 

 

Impacts

FONCET has worked closely with CONANP and other strategic partners in the conservation of the El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve and other protected areas through a very successful mechanism. Over 16 years some of the main impacts are:

  1. 3000 people are benefited from the conservation agriculture and mitigation activities

  2. 5664 hectares are conserved through the Payment for Environmental Services Program

  3. 40% of El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve operation staff is hired thanks to FONCET funding 

  4. 5 full-time park rangers conduct the surveillance in the core areas of El Triunfo

  5. 100 people from local communities are part of the community surveillance brigades which have prevented and fighted forest fires

  6. 22 young local people trained to start an environmental-friendly business to improve their living conditions and those of their communities

  7. 35,000 hectares managed through sustainable practices

  8. FONCET contributes to the National Biodiversity Monitoring System

  9. 142 species have been registered through the biological monitoring, like spider monkey, tapir, jaguar, horned guan, curassow, pajuil, quetzal, puma, king vulture, among others

  10. 28 young local people capacitated as educational puppeteers to support envirionmental actions

  11. 16 years of uninterrupted environmental education campaign

  12. 2350 families benefited from all projects financed by FONCET

 

Story

JorgeSilva

Located in southeast Mexico, Chiapas is the second most biodiverse state of the country and with the highest number of natural protected areas. One of these is El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve which protects one the last remnants of cloud forest, the most biodiverse and threatened terrestrial ecosystem in Mexico.

 

Unfortunately, population increase, lack of opportunities, expansion of the agricultural frontier, the frequent fires that accompany these activities, lack of funding, along with natural events like hurricanes, threaten the integrity of the Reserve.

 

Since the late 90’s was clear that additional support besides the given by the government was crucial to conserve and manage El Triunfo. That is why El Triunfo Conservation Fund (FONCET) was created: to ensure its long term conservation.

 

FONCET is a non-profit organization that seeks financial resources at a state, national and international levels to finance conservation and social projects in El Triunfo. Strong local participation is one of the main characteristics of FONCET: local entrepreneurs are part of the board and the financial committee, which has allowed to form strategic alliances with various sectors and attract new financing.

 

FONCET is a young and small organization that in spite of being located in the second poorest state and Mexico’s incipient culture of donation, has managed to increase their donors’ list and receive larger donations.

In just few years, FONCET has achieved great results and earned an honorable reputation across the country. They have been invited to present their experience to other Natural Protected Areas in Mexico to create a financial mechanism using FONCET as an example. It is important to mention that is not only recognized by its counterparts as well as other NGO’s, but also by local communities that see in them a reliable NGO.  

In 2017, FONCET was invited to become a regional fund so that more protected areas, besides El Triunfo, have additional funds for their management. This will allow to conserve more protected natural areas and, therefore, the natural capital of Chiapas, as well as to promote the welfare of local communities.

 

Contributed by

arivera_36300's picture

Andrómeda Mariana Rivera Castañeda

Other contributors

The Nature Conservancy
Gaia Editores S.A de C.V
Servicios Ambientales, Conservación Biológica y Educación A.C.