Co-Administration in the Zunil Regional Municipal Protected Area, Guatemala


  • Sandra De Urioste-Stone
  • William J. McLaughlin
  • Nick Sanyal
  • Ella Inglebret
  • Karen Guilfoyle


Collaborative management, co-management, joint management, cooperative management, participatory management, participatory action research


Co-administration, as a joint protected area governance approach, has increased substantially around the world. In Guatemala, one of the most rapidly growing forms of co-administration is that of protected areas managed by municipal governments in conjunction with central government agencies. There are high expectations for these protected areas coadministered by municipalities to ensure local participation and strengthen the government’s ongoing decentralization and conservation processes. However, little research has been conducted on the outcomes of these types of arrangements. This study presents an in-depth understanding about the co-administration of the Regional Municipal Protected Area of Zunil, from the perspective of different stakeholders. The Participatory Action Research Methodology was used to promote participation, learning, and action. The key area of strength of the current co-administration efforts in Zunil identified by co-participants was increased institutional coordination as reflected in such operational programs as environmental education, wildlife monitoring, and patrolling. The key area of weakness identified by co-participants was administrative structures and processes such as inadequate financing mechanisms, lack of processes to increase capacities of personnel, high and frequent rotation of personnel, and lack of active involvement of local stakeholders. In this case, successful co-administration required building human and social capital; ensuring mutual benefits for stakeholders involved; promoting involvement and active participation of local communities; negotiating and signing a shared co-management agreement; engaging in inclusive decision-making; improving organizational structures at the local level; and promoting sustainable development initiatives (e.g. tourism).