FWD: E-Link: Mesoamerican Corridor of Biodiversity (long)

John Cole. (jrc@TEI.UMASS.EDU)
Sun, 18 Aug 1996 17:38:22 -0400

Hope this is relevant===John

From: IN%"newsdesk@envirolink.org" 16-AUG-1996 13:31:20.67
To: IN%"environews@envirolink.org"
Subj: E-Link: Mesoamerican Corridor of Biodiversity


The Executive Secretary of the Cental American Commision for the Environmen=
and Development (CCAD), Jorge Cabrera, in reply to queries made by peasant
leaders from the region about the lack of grassroots participation in
designing the Mesomerican Biological Corridor Project proposal, assured
peasant farmers that from now on they will be fully consulted at national
level about the project.

Jorge Cabrera made this commitment at a meeting held by the CCAD in
Guatemala City on the 5-6 August 1996. The meeting was attended by
representatives of the Indigenous Coordination for Central America (CICA),
the Association for Cooperation and Development of Central American peasant=
(ASOCODE), the Indigenous and Peasant Coordination for Community
Agroforestry in Central America (CICAFOC), and the group of professionals i=
charge of project planning and implementation coordinated by Mario Boza.

The meeting discussed the lack of participation in the development of the
project proposal by the inhabitants of the areas who will be affected by th=
Biological Corridor, since the technical proposal emphasised wildlife
protection and scientific research but did not include management aspects.

Indigenous and peasant leaders informed that, as a result of the meeting,
the Executive Secretary of the CCAD, Jorge Cabrera, had promised that 7
country workshops would be held during August in which groups directly
affected by the Biological Corridor will participate. The country level
workshops will be followed by a regional workshop on the 5-6 September. The
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will finance the consultation

The meeting in Guatemala also agreed that the regional Biological Corridor
Project should reflect national ideas about protected areas and should be
based on a wide consensus resulting from the series of country workshops. I=
addition the project should contain 5 instead of 3 components as originally
planned. The new proposal will take into account natural resource use and
restoration, as well as protection, research and institutional strengthenin=

On the other hand, it was decided to remove from the proposal the
subcomponents: land purchase and family planning, unless these components
are considered necessary during consultation at country level, in which cas=
thay may be included in the respective national project. The letter, from
which the meeting originally stemmed, was sent by the regional
representative of CICAFOC, Alberto Chinchilla, to Cabrera in which
Chinchilla expressed his concern that the main idea behind the Biological
Corridor project was land purchase for conservation without taking into
consideration the rural inhabitants of those areas. In his letter Chinchill=
communicated that indigenous and afroamercian peasant communities were not
in agreement with the lack of grassroots consultation by the professionals
responsible for planning the project, and demanded an immediate response
from the CCAD.

The team of Central American scientists, coordinated by the Costarican,
Mario Boza and supervised by the North American Wildlife Conservation
Society (WCS), had developed the proposal under the auspices of the Central
American Committee for Forests and Protected Areas (CCAB-AP) of the CCAD.

The original project proposal was to be presented to the Global Environment
Facility (GEF), the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB) and other donors
for a total funding of $465 million. Chinchilla explained that =93according=
the first version of the written proposal for the Corridor, $400 million wa=
destined for land purchase and resettlement of peasants and indigenous
colonists while $3 million was for family planning projects in buffer zones=

Opportune intervention ends well

Peasant and indigenous leaders expressed satisfaction with the outcome of
the meeting organised by the CCAD and thanked Jorge Cabrera in particular
for his openness and willingness to act as mediator during the discussion.
They underlined that the problem had been neither technical nor
methodological , =93on the contrary, it was more a mistaken concept of what=
the relation between rural communities and Nature.=94

=93For Dr Mario Boza the people are a problem (for the conservation of natu=
resources) and so they have to be removed from the protected areas, or area=
to be protected, and on top of this they should=B4t be allowed to reproduce=

Moreover, peasant and indigenous leaders expressed their concern that a
North American conservation organization like WCS, whose staff are not
familiar with the regional reality, was supervising the Central American
team =93since this could result in a poor interpretation of our
socioenvironmental reality and an inappropriate orientation of the project=

Another point which worried the representatives of CICA; ASOCODE and CICAFO=
was the fact that the UNDP, whose objective is sustainable human
development, had funded an initiative =93whose vision was neither human nor

Finally, the peasant leaders brought to the notice of the GEF the Biologica=
Corridor project of the Nicaraguan Atlantic funded by GEF which has not
consulted the Miskita, Sumo and Rama communities which live in the project =

Juan Carlos Cruz B. 12/08/96 09.14 hrs

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