Leco Indigenous People

The Leco people from Apolo are located in the Apolo municipality, Franz Tamayo Province in the Department of La Paz among the humid and dry Andean montane forests and Andean savanna, which host a diverse flora and fauna. This area is also important for the conservation of endangered landscape species such as the Andean bear (Tremarctos ornatus) and the Military macaw (Ara militaris). It also constitutes the habitat of the palkachupa (Phibalura boliviana), an endemic cotinga of the Apolo pampas.

In order to ensure their traditional territory, in 1997 the Leco Apolo Indigenous People Council (CIPLA), consisting of 17 communities with a population of 3,159 inhabitants grouped in 594 families, presented a land claim of 658,006 hectares to the National Agrarian Institute (INRA) of which 530,426 hectares were admitted.In 2006, CIPLA obtained a land title for the 238,162 hectares of polygon 1, but land titling is still pending for polygons 2 and 3.

From 2007 through 2009, CIPLA developed their Life Plan, with technical support of WCS. The Life Plan was formulated based on the Leco people’s vision about their culture and development, taking into account the problems that communities face and analyzing the management potential of their territory. Strategies focus on harmonizing conservation and development objectives, through the revalorization of the Leco culture, strengthening of management capacities, sustainable natural resource management and generation of economic opportunities that contribute to improving the Leco quality of life.

Territory management planning used a participatory methodology for spatial analysis of the community land uses to regulate the use of natural resources and ensure their long-term availability. Two scales of zoning were considered: a community level and an Indigenous Territory (TCO) level.

Approximately 348,000 hectares of the Leco Apolo Indigenous Territory demand overlaps with Madidi National Park and Natural Area of Integrated Management (231,638 ha in titled area and 116,497 ha in area still under demand).Using the same methodology to analyze the compatibility of community land use, the Madidi protected area zoning was integrated with the Leco Apolo Indigenous Territory zoning. Nine areas of incompatible use were identified covering an area of 78,556 hectares (22.7% of overlapping area). Workshops between SERNAP, Madidi and CIPLA allowed the conciliation of proposed uses and integrated both zonings, creating a unique and concerted instrument of land management and the basis for the future co-management of the area.Seven areas were also identified as priority for protection activities: Quendeque, Huajra, Orco, Huratumo, Cauly, Sarayoj, Torewa and the Amantala headwaters; a joint protection strategy was defined within the agreement signed in November 2009.

A participatory proposal for territory management with shared responsibility of the overlapping area between the TCO Lecos Apolo and the Madidi National Park is complete, and includes a conceptual and normative baseline, a common strategic framework (vision, objectives and strategic guidelines), the identification of specific tools for its implementation (strategies, plans, programs or projects) and the definition of requirements for capacity building in CIPLA and Madidi/SERNAP.