The Wildlife Conservation Society is technically supporting the process of designing and creating a municipal protected area of about 800,000 hectares of natural forests and savannas in the Reyes Municipality.
In 2008, the Autonomous Municipal Government of Reyes created the Municipal Protected Area Los Santos Reyes through a municipal ordinance, with the objective of promoting tourism and conserving natural resources. Nevertheless, the area did not get established adequately, with neither a solid legal base, nor adequate consultation with the local population. Furthermore, the instruments for its management were not established. Ten years later, and in a favorable context in the region for the development of conservation strategies and sustainable tourism, the municipality of Reyes prioritizes the creation and management of this municipal protected area on the basis of the previous ordinance of 2008, but adapting it to the new constitutional, legal and institutional framework currently in place.
Starting 2019, at the request of the municipality of Reyes, WCS is working in the development of a technical proposal of new limits for the area, defining the management category and objectives of its creation, and also supporting the consultation with the local stakeholders and the process of establishing agreements (Tacana III indigenous territory, indigenous and agriculturalist communities, cattle ranches and urban population). With these inputs, the plan is that by March of 2019 we will have a new municipal autonomous law for the creation of the municipal protected area, which will give it the necessary technical, legal and social support and the support of all the stakeholders involved. A next planned step is the development of the management plan and, subsequently, its implementation. Both processes in which WCS will also be involved.
The importance of the municipal protected area of Los Santos Reyes lies in its natural values, as it is a key site for the protection of forests and savannas, a system of lakes and swamps and a diversity of species, some of them endemic to the Beni, some of them endemic to Beni, such as the two titi monkeys (Plecturocebus modestus and P. olallae), both Endangered under the IUCN threats criteria as well as in Bolivia’ Red Data Book of Vertebrates, and the mamaco (Crax globulosa) categorized as Critically Endangered in Bolivia’ Red Data Book as well. Its cultural relevance is expressed in the presence of indigenous communities of Tacana and Maropa origin and in traditions of a missionary past that still survive today. Because of its tourist potential, Reyes is part of the tourist destination referred to as Rurrenabaque: Madidi-Pampas, which is in the process of being internationally recognized as a sustainable tourist destination with the ‘Biophere’ certification by the UNESCO Responsible Tourism Institute (IRT). The management of the area will not only increase the benefits of sustainable tourism, but will contribute significantly to conservation and sustainable development of the whole municipality and the region.