Achieving the sustainability of conservation agreements in El Caura, Venezuela

Publicado: 21 Diciembre 2018
Última edición: 01 Octubre 2020
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To achieve sustainability in conservation agreements in El Caura, Phynatura has generated social, financial and conservation capacities in local communities. Activities related to environmental education, environmental monitoring, accounting for small businesses, among others, result in conservation, local organization, marketing of non-timber forest products and trained communities. With all these elements that guarantee conservation in the Conservation Agreement Suapure within the Caura Forest Reserve, it is time to achieve sustainability through the consolidation of communities as the main actor in conservation agreements.


Scale of implementation
Bosques tropicales de hoja perenne
Ecosistemas forestales
Actores locales
Conocimientos tradicionales
Financiación sostenible
Gobernanza de las áreas protegidas y conservadas
Incorporación de la perspectiva de género
Institucionalización de la biodiversidad
Medios de vida sostenibles
Poblaciones indígenas
Pérdida de la biodiversidad
Usos conflictivos / impactos acumulativos
Desarrollo de Infraestructura
Extracción de recursos físicos
Cambios en el contexto socio-cultural
Falta de conciencia del público y de los responsables de la toma de decisiones
Sustainable development goals
ODS 1 - Fin de la pobreza
ODS 5 - Igualidad de género
ODS 8 - Trabajo decente y crecimiento económico
ODS 10- Reducción de las desigualidades
ODS 12 - Producción y consumo responsables
ODS 17 - Alianzas para lograr los objetivos
Aichi targets
Meta 7: Agricultura, acuicultura y silvicultura
Meta 11: Áreas protegidas y conservadas
Meta 14: Los servicios ecosistemicos
Meta 18: Conocimiento tradicional
Meta 19: Intercambio de información y conocimiento


Forest Reserve El Caura, Venezuela
Mostrar en “Planeta protegido”


In an economy with an uncertain future as the Venezuelan economy, simple actions become challenging. In the Caura basin, illegal gold mining offers a high compensation compared to traditional income. Therefore, achieving sustainability and adding other areas under this scheme in itself is a challenge. Actions such as the development of value chain analysis strategies to promote the commercialization, in fair and social terms, of other not-timber forest products with high potential in the region; consolidate the environmental education strategy based on conservation actions and benefits, with the development of knowledge at all levels of basic education and community workshops; and the creation of a trust fund with the long-term sales commitments of NTFPs, cooperation and donations to ensure that the conservation and sustainability actions of the agreements are really necessary.


The African descent people of Aripao, 60 families, and the indigenous community of La Colonial, 24 families, receive direct and indirect benefits from the commercialization of NTFP and compensation for environmental monitoring activities.

¿ Cómo interactúan los building blocks en la solución?

The Conservation Agreement is the instrument that supports the trisectorial alliance represented by civil society (NGOs), communities and the private sector. First, the NGO Phynatura created community capacities, designed and implemented monitoring programs, and measured the results and linking the different actors. Second, the local community of Aripao was organized into a Civil Association to be able to administer resources and implement actions. Third, Givaudan acts as the purchaser of the sarrapia (Dipterys punctata) a non-timber forest product collected by the community.

Once the activities reached a satisfactory result, other communities were invited to participate. In this case, the community of Aripao is responsible for generating the capacities of the indigenous community The Colonial, providing support from the design of the Conservation Agreement to the training of different activities such as environmental monitoring, harvesting sarrapia, accounting, among others.


In this way, the conservation agreement is a block where other blocks can be built, such as the inclusion of other communities in sustainable initiatives.


Currently, 149,600 hectare of forest in the lower Caura river basin (200 km from Ciudad Bolívar and 400 km from Caracas, Venezuela) are under conservation which represents 3% of the Caura river basin, reducing deforestation in 5.6% of the basin and protecting 210 fauna species. This conservation benefts 43% of the families from the related communities through direct and indirect impacts of international donors and trade of non-timber products.



The people of Aripao have African origins; since the colonial era, they have largely gone unnoticed by modern Venezuelan history. At present, its inhabitants are considered as the first conservation community in Venezuela. 

From it ancestral origins, the community of Aripao has based its survival on its relationship with the forest. Since its arrival in the Caura in the 19th century to 1960, it was a semi-nomadic population dedicated to the harvesting of forest products, fishing, hunting and small-scale agriculture. The height of the town occurred in 1840-50 when the world demand for natural forest products attracted immigrants from neighboring states. In that period, there were conflicts between the Aripao people and the family in charge, the Jimoes. This family occupied and exploited the Suapure forest. After the departure of the Jimoes, the Aripao people managed it collectively due to their deep knowledge of the forest and its economic link with the use of the almond of sarrapia or cumarú (Dipterix punctata), a product that today continues to bepart of their cultural identity.

The harvest of the almond of sarrapia has been one of the most important activities in these forests. "In the decade of the 30s and 40s the sarrapia harvest was the main activity where we all participated as a family and it was collected on a large scale", recalls Manuel Martínez, connoisseur of stories, legends and myths.

Today the threats of expansion of the agricultural frontier, logging, commercial hunting, and uncontrolled and intensified fishing are creating conflicts between the Aripao people and foreigners. Additionally, illegal mining of gold began upstream of the Caura river, undermining the tradition and culture of coexistence with the forest.

Faced with this situation and taking advantage of the tradition of harvesting the sarrapiales of the Caura, a Conservation Agreement in an alliance with Conservation International and the French perfume company Givaudan was made, preserving 116,000 ha of the forest with the commitment to sustainably harvest of sarrapia in exchange for economic benefits to the community. From this agreement, the recognition of the territory allows the land demarcation by the people to initiate the demand for their territorial rights.



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Luis Jimenez