• Wyss Academy

Buffer zones: Reconciling conservation and sustainable livelihoods


The Madre de Dios department in the Amazonas region of Peru has a unique level of biodiversity.

A focus on landscapes instead of on isolated individual areas is an underlying goal of the strategic plan for the buffer zone of Tambopata National Reserve, called PEZA, which began in 2017 and has been strongly supported by the Wyss Academy since 2020. It is based in the Tambopata National Park in the Madre de Dios region.


The project has become a Wyss Academy incubator: a testbed for new approaches. It aims to answer the following question: How can conservation and a sustainable economy be combined? Buffer zones around forest conservation areas are one way of testing innovative protection models that provide the livelihoods needed by the local people and reduce the pressure on natural resources.


A study commissioned by the Wyss Academy as part of the project has already shown that the participative co-design approach used in Tambopata is a significant success factor. The introduction of incentives for local people has played a decisive role in the success of the management of the buffer zone.


The project has supported the development of an integrated participatory monitoring tool for the buffer zone of Tambopata National Reserve. It further investigated which aspects of the overall management approach can be transferred to other conservation areas of Peru, and what would be the strategies to do so. At its core stands the conviction that the involvement of local people is what is needed to maintain buffer zones around conservation areas, rather than fences or monitoring programs.


Economic activities, sustainable forest management, participatory management and legal support are the measures that have a positive impact on these border regions. The PEZA model has proved its usefulness in practice and is recommended for scaling up and replication on the basis of the evaluation carried out by ACCA in collaboration with the Wyss Academy.



Gold mining is an important industry in Madre de Dios, but it has a negative impact on the people who live there and on the environment.