Ñembi Guasu Indigenous conservation Bolivia

Ñembi Misi supports Indigenous conservation in Bolivia

The Ñembi Misi Operational Centre opened its doors last week: a significant step towards protecting the rich biodiversity and cultural heritage of the Gran Chaco region in Bolivia. Ñembi Misi translates to ‘small refuge’ in Guarani, the local Indigenous language. The name reflects the important role this centre will play in safeguarding the natural and cultural treasures of the Chaco and Pantanal region. It is located in the conservation area established within Bolivia’s plan for Indigenous autonomy.

Header photo: the centre in the forests of Gran Chaco © Nativa Bolivia

The Ñembi Misi Operational Centre was established by the Indigenous Autonomous government of Charagua, the leading authority of the area, with support from Nativa Bolivia and joint backing of World Land Trust (WLT), Nature and Culture International (NCI), DOB Ecology and IUCN NL.

Supporting Indigenous conservation

The main objective of the Ñembi Misi Operational Centre is to facilitate the operations of the Ñembi Guasu Indigenous Conservation Area, a vast protected area in the Gran Chaco. By providing essential logistical support, the centre will enhance the efforts of park guards of the area and Indigenous communities to conserve their ancestral lands and unique ecosystems.

The centre will also contribute to the integrated management of the Great Chaco-Pantanal Conservation Landscape. Through the promotion of scientific research, its team aims to deepen the understanding of the region’s natural resources and ecosystems, paving the way for evidence-based conservation strategies.

Additionally, the Ñembi Misi Operational Centre will serve as a platform to raise awareness and appreciation for the natural, economic, and cultural heritage of the Chaco and Pantanal regions. By organising educational programmes, workshops, and outreach activities, Ñembi Misi will foster a sense of stewardship among local communities and visitors, encouraging them to actively participate in the conservation efforts.

Nembi Misi management forest fires
The inauguration of the Ñembi Misi Operational Centre took place on 18 May, 2023. © Nativa Bolivia

Conservation milestone in Bolivia

The establishment of the Ñembi Misi Operational Centre comes at a critical time, as the Ñembi Guasu Conservation Area has faced significant challenges. Over the past years, fires, agricultural expansion, and road construction have threatened the integrity of the area. The operational centre will act as a stronghold against such threats, coordinating conservation actions and enabling a rapid response to emerging challenges.

The opening of the Ñembi Misi Operational Centre marks a significant milestone in the conservation journey of the Indigenous Autonomous Territory Charagua. Ñembi Guasu is the first conservation area created within the plan for Indigenous autonomy established in the Bolivian Constitution in 2009. The protected area was officially defined in April 2019 by the Guaraní Charagua Iyambae autonomous government. It is a testament to the commitment of Indigenous communities, local and international organisations, and the Bolivian government to preserve the natural wonders and cultural heritage in this unique landscape.

More information?

Sander van Andel
Senior Expert Nature Conservation