Strengthening the capacities of indigenous Guaraní communities for the co-management of protected areas in Bolivia

  • Country: Bolivia
  • Organisation: Cuencas Sustentables S.R.L
  • Support area: Conserving biological diversity
  • IKI funding: 114,594 euros
  • Project start: 01/10/2022
  • Project end: 31/03/2024
  • Website:

Bolivia’s Gran Chaco region consists of swamps, salt flats, scrublands, and the largest untouched dry forest on earth. This forest plays an important role in maintaining and regulating the water supply of indigenous Guaraní and peasant communities. Despite the legal protection status of a series of newly established protected areas, they are increasingly threatened by agricultural activities, cattle ranching, and extensive fires. The IKI Small Grants project works towards the effective co-management of these areas at the community level. This contributes to the conservation and sustainable management of the ecosystem services and the biodiversity found in the Bolivian Gran Chaco. Additionally, it strengthens the livelihoods of local communities under climate change conditions and helps to secure their access to natural resources.


Where the lowland Chaco meets the Andes mountains, the Parapetí river, the beating heart of the Gran Chaco, plays an important role in the water supply of the indigenous Guaraní and peasant communities. However, the Bolivian-Tucuman forests of the piedmont are increasingly threatened by industrial agriculture and cattle ranching. These biodiverse water-producing forests are becoming pastures and farmland with low productivity. In this context, the protection and effective management of these forests carried out with indigenous Guaraní and peasant communities is crucial for the conservation of biodiversity and water sources as drinking water supply for the local communities.


This project works in 15 indigenous Guarani and peasant communities, who reside in a series of newly created protected areas in the upper Parapetí river basin. Direct beneficiaries of the IKI Small Grants project are 150 community members who are involved in the sustainable co-management of these new protected areas.


The IKI Small Grants project works towards the conservation and sustainable management of national resources in protected areas in the Bolivian Chaco. Using a participative approach, selected local Guaraní and peasant communities receive trainings in climate topics under climate change conditions. They play an important role in the co-management of these areas.

The project’s first milestone is to establish indigenous governance structures at the community level for the effective co-management of the protected areas. The organisation Cuencas Sustentables S.R.L establishes spaces for regular dialogue between local governments and the indigenous Guaraní and peasant communities. The organisation holds workshops for developing tools and guidelines for the participation of indigenous peoples in the co-management of protected areas.

The second milestone is to elaborate participative co-management plans for the conservation and sustainable management of protected areas. Work meetings between representatives of the indigenous Guaraní and campesino communities and local government technicians evaluate the current situation of the protected areas and identify critical areas for intervention. The overall goal is to agree to conservation measures, that are implemented in the second phase of the project.

The third milestone is the capacity development of indigenous Guaraní and peasant communities to be able to effectively contribute to the conservation and co-management. The organisation provides technical support as well as trainings on sustainable production (e.g., fruit tree planting, installation of beehives, improvements in the water system). In this project phase a team of local Guaraní men and women is set up to monitor activities at the community level.


Cuencas Sustentables S.R.L. is a limited liability company. Its mission is to advice and implement projects related to the management of natural resources, both for the public and private sectors, at national and international levels. The organisation also carries out fundraising activities in the field of natural resources and prepares studies on the use of economic and financial instruments for the conservation of natural resources. Cuencas Sustentables S.R.L. executes contracts that are related to the organisation’s objectives and lead to a better projection of the organisation.