Training of community park guards / environmental promotors
About the Implementing organization
Name: Fundación Cordillera Tropical
Year of establishment: 2000
Type of organization: Community-based association or organization / Legally recognized non-profit status
FCT selected individuals from communities throughout its coverage area that are located within or near the border of Sangay National Park's southern zone, to be trained in a long-term capacity building program. These individuals received technical training to assist the Ecuadorian Ministry of Environment in the patrol and monitoring of the Park, due to the Ministry's limited staffing capacity to effectively enforce Park rules in such a large (250,000 ha) area interspersed with private property and communities. Specialized and scientific skills were a part of the training curriculum, such as use of GPS units, basic GIS software management, and transect observational studies, but likewise addressed were social and conflict-management skills. These individuals were trained to address issues such as illegal hunting, illegal logging, point-source pollution such as illegal dumping in rivers, and land tenure disputes. They also served an important role in providing phenology (ecosystem seasonality) and wildlife sighting records. They became known in their communities as "park guards" or "environmental promotors" and while salary support from the Ministry of the Environment has since waned, they have persisted in this work and found additional ways to leverage their training and continue exercising this role with financing from other interested business and local-governance entities.
Forests / Mountains / Rivers / Wildlife
Type of Action
Protection / Access and benefit sharing / Awareness and education
Sustainable Development Element
Jobs and livelihoods / Peace and security
The community park guard training series was a successful program to improve environmental conservation in particular within Sangay National Park's southern zone which is intervened by grandfathered-in private property. Under FCT's direction and supervision, community park guards installed signs along the borders of the park to alert travelers and users of the restricted use permissions, helped enrich the region's knowledge about local ecosystems and species through their observations, and safeguarded wildlife and ecosystems by working with park authorities to enforce hunting/natural resource laws. Later, these individuals formed the Associative Microenterprise of Environmental Promotors "Cutín" (named for an iconic local frog species) that to this day markets reforestation services and outreach programs modeled on what they learned from FCT, to hydroelectric companies and other entities interested in significantly offsetting carbon footprints or mitigating landscape degradation.
Sustainable Development Impacts
Individuals trained as part of this project gained concrete skills that furthered their livelihood options far beyond the default of small-scale cattle ranching that was the reality for the vast majority prior to participating. Nearly all of them are currently employed at least part-time by the Microenterprise "Cutín", a direct application of not only the technical skills they built, but of the reputation and relationships built while serving as community park guards. They have without doubt contributed to a warming of relationships between the National Park and Ministry staff and the communities in the area, leading to more peaceful and just interactions.
Scalability is limited only by the capacity for local, regional, national, or international entities to contribute financing toward the training and remuneration of community individuals involved in community park guard programs. In this case, institutional change at the Ministry level led to an unfortunate non-sustainable arrangement as originally set up, but the resilience and resourcefulness of these community members has allowed other options to be found.
Community park guard training has been implemented by other institutions in other parts of the world, but it has been FCT's long-standing, close relationship with these communities that led to its original success and continued existence in other forms. The fact that these trained individuals have creatively forged other means to replicate this work throughout the Nudo del Azuay speaks to the continued need for this project, and its relevance. FCT feels that in communities where such a need exists, it is urgent and apt that this program be replicated to achieve long-lasting social and ecological gains for protected areas.
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