Applying Asset Mapping to Protected Area Planning and Management in the Cordillera Azul National Park, Peru

Hillary del Campo, Alaka Wali


Participatory conservation efforts are now common throughout regions of high biodiversity in the developing world. Standard approaches to participatory conservation begin with need-based assessments that identify humaninduced ecological threats and livelihood deficiencies, but this focus on “threats” and “needs” tends to reinforce perceptions of rural people as predatory, poor and dependent. We examine the theoretical, conceptual, and methodological application of an alternative, “assets-based” approach to participatory conservation and the co-management of natural resources in areas of high cultural and biological diversity. As a case study, we report on the implementation of an asset-mapping activity applied in the buffer zone of the Cordillera Azul National Park in north-central Peru. Data were collected by community facilitators in 53 communities within the park’s buffer zone. These data encompass local knowledge systems, community visions for the future, and innovative livelihood strategies compatible with conservation goals. By focusing on these social assets, this approach demonstrates the ways in which positive, pre-existing cultural characteristics may be used to plan and guide the management of a protected area. We describe how this approach has helped to empower local communities and to improve dialogue and transparency between disparate stakeholders. We also include a discussion of the challenges and limitations of this assetmapping activity.

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Ethnobotany Research and Applications (ISSN 1547-3465) is published online by the Department of Ethnobotany, Institute of Botany, Ilia State University.
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