Maria Teresa Vargas
Natura Foundation Bolivia :: 2016
Maria Teresa founded Natura Bolivia to help communities protect the forests that supply their water. In poor communities, upper watershed farmers often have no economic alternative other than to deforest their land for agriculture. Downstream water sources are then contaminated, sedimentation blocks pipes and waterholes dry up. Upstream and downstream communities rely on each other but are often unable to figure out how to come to an arrangement that meets the needs of both.
Natura Bolivia creates win-win agreements that work for both watershed communities. They put together robust deals that ensure downstream beneficiaries pay for upstream conservation. We need more market-based mechanisms, like these reciprocal water agreements, that connect watershed management with critical habitat conservation.