Indigenous Council Receives Prestigious Equator Prize 2010 at New York Award Ceremony

NEW YORK (September 29, 2010) – The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) applauds the selection of their local partner in the montane rainforests of Bolivia—the Consejo Regional Tsimané Mosetene (Tsimané Mosetene Regional Council—CRTM)—as a winner of the prestigious Equator Prize 2010, an honor bestowed on 25 local communities working to reduce poverty through sustainable development and the conservation of biodiversity.

A representative of the council—Clemente Caimany Josecita—participated in the Equator Prize 2010 award ceremony at the American Museum of Natural History on Monday, September 20th.  Caimani accepted the Equator Prize for CRTM as well as a Special Recognition Prize for Applied Indigenous Knowledge, along with US $5,000 and $15,000 respectively for the honors. 

The Equator Prize is sponsored by the Equator Initiative, a partnership that brings together the United Nations, governments, civil society, and grassroots organizations for the purpose of highlighting local efforts to reduce poverty through both conservation and sustainable development.  

With technical support from the Wildlife Conservation Society, the CRTM council helped formulate a strategic plan for the Pilón Lajas Biosphere Reserve—one of the most biodiverse places on the planet—that incorporates management strategies for the reserve and a life plan for the reserve’s indigenous Tsimané (or Chimane) and Mosetene communities. The partnership works to preserve local traditions, improve local livelihoods, and promote education while preventing illegal land settlements, illegal logging and other unsustainable activities.

“We commend our local partners for their work in promoting local livelihoods while protecting the Pilón Lajas region’s rich natural heritage,” said Dr. Avecita Chicchón, Director for the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Latin America and the Caribbean Program. “We are all the beneficiaries of their success.”

The Pilón Lajas Biosphere Reserve was created in 1992 for the purpose of conserving biodiversity and improving the living conditions of the resident communities. Its wildlife includes species such as the spectacled bear, jaguar, and 332 species of birds. Pilón Lajas is part of a protected region (including the adjacent Madidi and Apolobamba protected areas) that contains the largest swath of montane rainforests in the tropical Andes, considered the most biodiverse landscape on Earth.

The participation of the Tsimané and Mosetene communities in the management of the Pilón Lajas Biosphere Reserve began with the establishment of the reserve in 1977. The territorial rights of both indigenous groups were officially recognized in 1992. With the assistance of experts from WCS, CRTM established a common territorial zoning plan along with a set of objectives and benchmarks to gauge effectiveness.

So far, the efforts of the CRTM have resulted in:

  • The consolidation of indigenous property rights of more than 386,000 hectares (about 1,490 square miles, an area larger than Rhode Island).
  • The identification of areas for agriculture, hunting, and other sustainable activities.
  • Protection of important water basins, the origin of 82 streams and rivers that supply water to more than 8,000 people in the surrounding region.
  • Leveraging support for the construction of schools for 14 communities.
  • The establishment of sustainable forestry management plan, an association of organic honey producers, and organizations for coffee and cocoa producers.
Stephen Sautner: (1-718-220-3682;
John Delaney: (1-718-220-3275;

The Wildlife Conservation Society
saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth.

Special Note to the Media: If you would like to guide your readers or viewers to a web link where they can make donations in support of helping save wildlife and wild places, please direct them to: