Renewed Support for Ngöbe-Bugle and La Amistad

May 2006

New funding from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) will help the Ngöbe-Bugle indigenous peoples in Panama better manage more than 420,000 hectares of land in and around the Amistad Biosphere Reserve. The recently awarded grant will help the Ngöbe-Bugle to strengthen their environmental protocols and practices and involve local community members more closely in decisionmaking regarding uses of their land.

The Ngöbe-Bugle have territorial rights to 700,000 hectares of land covering nearly 50 percent of the Talamanca-Bocas del Toro biodiversity conservation corridor in the southern region of the Mesoamerica Hotspot. They play a vital role in conserving the area, particularly in the buffer zone around the reserve, which has been particularly hard hit by cattle grazing, drug cultivation, forest fires, hunting, and illegal logging.

The Asociación de Profesionales y Técnicos Ngöbe Bugle (APROTENG) will use the CEPF grant to work with Panama’s Autoridad Nacional del Ambiente. Together, they will establish an environmental commission to advise the board of the Nö Kribo Regional Congress, the governing body for the largest portion of the Ngöbe-Bugle territory, the Nö Kribo region. This grant will contribute significantly to improving the management of key protected areas, one of CEPF’s strategies in the region.

“We have helped the Ngöbe Bugle in the past with site-specific grants to carry out reforestation activities, environmental education, biodiversity inventories, and protected areas management,” CEPF Grant Director Michele Zador said. “With this grant, we hope also to help them promote sustainable development across the Nö Kribo region as they face the challenges of a period of rapid social, economic, and cultural change.”

The Talamanca-Bocas del Toro Corridor is an area with extremely high levels of endemism: 21 percent of its 12,000 species of vascular plants are endemic, as are 40 percent of its 521 species of mammals. The Nö Kribo region alone includes parts of the Fortuna Forest Reserve and La Amistad International Park, as well as much of the park’s buffer zone, and almost all of the Palo Seco Forest Reserve.

Beyond environmental management, a key element of the project activities will be engaging local partners to promote sustainable livelihoods in cocoa and agroforestry for the Ngöbe-Bugle and other local people. APROTENG will also support capacity building of key stakeholders and local communities to participate actively within the environmental commission.

CEPF investments support 200 indigenous and non-indigenous rural communities, including the Ngöbe-Bugle, in the southern region of the Mesoamerica Hotspot.

For more information, contact at APROTENG.