A Shared Land – Participatory Planning in Buffer Zones

Buffer zones play a major role in bridging the divide between conservation and inclusive development. Historically, the buffer zones were introduced as a neutral area between countries or two areas of domination.

From today’s conservationist perspective, they could be understood as a pilot area to demonstrate how balance between people and nature can be achieved. Ideally, they not only protect the adjacent reserve but nurture and provide for the human settlements around.

To good to be true? Maybe, but not impossible. Successful examples around the world reveal how they constantly innovate. One of them is in Peru  bordering the Tambopata reserve in Madre de Dios. The region is multicultural, with many divergent interests, contradicting not only each other’s interests but also the idea of conservation.

However, despite of many challenges, the so-called PEZA – a participatory plan to manage buffer zones, has been successful. The project managed to convene the local population to start building a shared vision, to identify incentives for further forest protection as well as to overcome divides.

After nearly five years of building and shaping PEZA, the planning part of the project is coming to end in 2022, which turns it into an apt moment to evaluate what has been achieved and learned at this point of being “one third in”.