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

Publicado: 26 Septiembre 2018
Última edición: 02 Octubre 2020
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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.




América del Norte
Scale of implementation
Bosques tropicales de hoja perenne
Campos de cultivo
Ecosistemas forestales
Actores locales
Adaptación al cambio climático
Financiación sostenible
Gestión y planificación de áreas protegidas y conservadas
Manejo de cuencas
Medios de vida sostenibles
Mitigación del cambio climático
Servicios ecosistémicos
Degradación de tierras y bosques
Cosecha insostenible, incluida la sobrepesca
Falta de acceso a financiación a largo plazo
Extracción de recursos físicos
Falta de conciencia del público y de los responsables de la toma de decisiones
Desempleo / pobreza
Sustainable development goals
ODS 1 - Fin de la pobreza
ODS 6 - Agua limpia y saneamiento
ODS 11 - Ciudades y comunidades sostenibles
ODS 15 - Vida de ecosistemas terrestres
ODS 16 - Paz, justicia e instituciones sólidas
ODS 17 - Alianzas para lograr los objetivos
Aichi targets
Meta 1: Aumento de la sensibilization sobre la biodiversidad
Meta 10: Ecosistemas vulnerables al cambio
Meta 11: Áreas protegidas y conservadas
Meta 14: Los servicios ecosistemicos
Meta 20: Movilización de recursos de todas las fuentes
Marco de Sendai
Meta 2: Reducir el número de personas afectadas a nivel global para 2030
Meta 3: Reducir las pérdidas económicas directas por desastre en relación al PIB para 2030


Chiapas, Mexico
Mostrar en “Planeta protegido”


  • 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


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


¿ Cómo interactúan los building blocks en la solución?

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.





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




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.


Contribuido por

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Andrómeda Mariana Rivera Castañeda

Other contributors

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