The Wildlife Conservation Society will execute a $12.84 million USD grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to maintain the high conservation status of the Putumayo-Içá river basin in the Amazon, home to some of the richest ecosystems in the world.

Four countries, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru will lead the initiative under a shared vision which will address the causes of water pollution and biodiversity loss. With almost $ 90 million USD in co-financing from the host governments, NGO’s and private sector, the project will advance a framework for the Integrated Management of the Basin, with a particular focus on preserving freshwater ecosystems and their associated natural resources, on which local communities depend. .

The Putumayo-Içá river basin is the tenth longest tributary of the Amazon River, providing an abundance of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Its waters provide uninterrupted connectivity between the Andes and the Amazon River, through an intricate network of rivers, lakes and flooded forests in the lower plains.

The project will be supervised by the World bank as implementing agency and executed by the Wildlife Conservation Society in partnership with local communities, grassroots organizations and local and national authorities.

Said Padu Franco, Director of the WCS Andes, Amazonia, Orinoquia Program: “We are honored to work with Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru on this GEF-funded Putumayo-Içá river basin initiative. It has been in development for two years and we know it will develop enabling conditions to protect this basin to ensure the livelihoods of local communities and vibrant habitats for wildlife for generations to come. All four countries leading this project will build on their current initiatives protecting the basin and will develop a shared framework for the protection of these invaluable and relatively intact ecosystems. The initiative will bolster WCS’s current conservation work in Amazon where we have a long tradition of working in partnership with governments, Indigenous communities and other NGOs.”

The Putumayo-Içá river basin project will have two components: the design and implementation of a knowledge management system to improve access to and use of information for better decision making for watershed management, including a participatory process to develop a strategic plan for integrated water resource management; and the implementation of pilot interventions to address priority issues, such as the development of management plans for fish and non-timber forest products, and capacity building and promotion of best practices to address the problem of mercury contamination resulting from small-scale gold mining activities.