Latin America Conservation Council

Protect Ocean, Land and Water

Protecting Our Heritage, Safeguarding Our Future

Latino América
Diving with sealions Latino América © Alfredo Martinez Fernandez /TNC Photo Contest 2019

Protecting nature in Latin America and ensuring plentiful water, food and energy for the region are not conflicting goals. Nature and human development are both central factors in the same equation. Modern conservation is about finding innovative ways so that both can thrive

The sea has been my livelihood. It has fed my family. Now I am giving something in return.


From the dazzling blue waters of Mexico’s Baja California to the towering, ancient forests of Chile’s Valdivian coasts, TNC is transforming how lands and waters are used and conserved for the benefit of people and wildlife.

Building on the 60-year land protection legacy for which TNC is known, we partner with indigenous people and local communities to strengthen their rights and roles as environmental stewards. We engage corporations and governments to ensure infrastructure investments flow to projects that meet environmental, economic and community objectives. We spur forward-thinking policies that amplify the scale and speed of conservation.

Protecting nature is our heritage; it is also the only way to ensure our future.

Protecting Wildlife

Chile Mapa

Camera traps helped scientists confirm the presence of the endemic Chilean shrew opossum at TNC’s Valdivian Coastal Reserve. The tiny marsupial—one of four in Chile— is rarely sighted and considered to be facing a high risk of extinction. Monitoring the conservation status of endangered species is a key aspect of TNC’s work in the Valdivian Coastal Reserve, a global biodiversity hot spot that protects one of the world’s last temperate rainforests. The reserve shelters an incredible wealth of endangered wildlife including the Magellanic woodpecker, the pudú (also known as the world’s smallest deer), the mountain monkey (a tree dwelling marsupial considered to be a “living fossil”) and the Guiña cat (the smallest wild felid in the western hemisphere). Around the world, habitat loss is pushing species to the brink of extinction at alarming rates. Protected areas are crucial for biodiversity conservation and are cornerstones for TNC’s global efforts.

An aerial view of Colun Beach, sand dunes and the Colun River in the Valdivian Coastal Reserve, Los Rios, Chile.
NCM120816_D294 An aerial view of Colun Beach, sand dunes and the Colun River in the Valdivian Coastal Reserve, Los Rios, Chile. © Nick Hall

Powering Latin America

As Latin American countries ramp up their investments in clean energy, TNC is bringing science to the table to support governments and decision-makers in guiding development to minimize impacts on people and nature. In Mexico, after demonstrating the benefits of scientific siting for hydropower development in the Coatzacoalcos basin, TNC is collaborating with national electricity and biodiversity authorities towards applying these lessons to wind and solar energy development. These efforts will advance Mexico’s renewable energy goals and conserve biodiversity. In Peru, TNC is advising policy reforms to improve energy sector planning with social and environmental standards. In Colombia’s Magdalena River basin, where more than 70% of hydropower and 80% of national GDP is produced, but where fish stocks have plummeted, the application of TNC’s modeling tools has helped avoid impacts on 621 miles of the river and its tributaries.

Un kayakista rema por encima de las gorgonias en Belice.
Magdalena River basin A fisherman casts his net in the Llanito swamp, part of the Magdalena River basin. Communities of traditional fishers live by the swamp and sustain their families and supply local markets with fish caught using artisanal fishing methods. © Ethan Daniels

Tripling Marine Protected Areas

To replenish vital fishing grounds, Belize announced a bold plan to place nearly 12% of its waters under protection—almost tripling its marine reserves. TNC played a key role in this effort, conducting spatial analysis, modeling and consultations with fishers to identify critical areas for protection. By giving fish room to recover, Belize will sustain its coastal economies and secure healthy marine resources across the world’s second largest reef system. This ambitious plan will enable Belize to achieve some of its international commitments of conserving at least 10% of its coastal and marine areas by 2020.

Gorgonians, blue sky and kayaker, Turneffe Atoll, Belize, Caribbean.
Belize, Caribbean. Gorgonians, blue sky and kayaker, Turneffe Atoll, Belize, Caribbean. © Ethan Daniels

Conserving the World’s Aquarium

Nestled between Mexico’s mainland and the Baja California peninsula, the dazzling sea that Jacques Cousteau once called “the world’s aquarium,” is home to more than 900 species of fish and a wide array of marine mammals like sea lions, dolphins and whales. The region supplies more than 70% of Mexico’s fish catch and is a renowned diving destination. While threatened b unsustainable practices such as overfishing, this is also a place fo hope and emerging opportunities Over the past six years, TN and local partners have helped 25 communities create fish replenishment zones where fish can grow and reproduce. The results are clear: a 30% increase in fish abundance. That’s good news for Mexican fishers and for the area’s extraordinary diversity of marine life. Communities have petitioned to add 247 square miles to the recovery zone network. In addition, the design guidelines are being adopted as a national norm.

I shoot this photo in los Islotes in Espiritu Santo Island in La Paz Bay, Baja California Sur, Mexico
Sea lion in Espiritu Santo Island I shoot this photo in los Islotes in Espiritu Santo Island in La Paz Bay, Baja California Sur, Mexico © Alfredo Martinez Fernandez /TNC Photo Contest 2019

A Force for Nature

This report shows how The Nature Conservancy is responding to this challenge not only in the area of climate change, but in land, rivers, oceans, agriculture and cities.