Carlos Calani Perez arrived from Bolivia’s high altiplano twenty years ago, to settle in the foothills of the Andes next to one of the most biodiverse protected areas of the planet, the Amboró National Park. Carlos moved to the lowlands of Bolivia in pursuit of a better life, with a dream. “Everything you plant on this land, produces”, he says, gesturing to the surrounding citrus groves. Carlos lives upstream from the town of El Torno, in the community of Villa Paraíso, along with his wife, Teodosia and his five children.

Everything you plant on this land, produces

Thanks to watershared and Reciprocal Water Agreements (RWA), the Calani family receive annual compensations in exchange for conserving primary forests and implementing agricultural practices that help to protect the watershed.

As part of the program the Calani family received four bee boxes to house stingless native bee species—or señoritas—to produce medicinal honey and pollen. They now have 20 bee boxes, from which Carlos produces and sells honey in the El Torno market. Each bee box produces 1 kg of honey per harvest. Carlos can usually harvest two or three times a year, and the medicinal properties of the honey command a high price: up to US $30 per kilogram. Honey production is very important for the Calani family, representing one third of their annual income, or approximately US$ 1,200. Teodosia and her younger children take care of the native bee boxes neatly installed in a grove of tangerine trees. This is typical in El Torno: honey production is led by women and younger family members, and is often an economic activity in which women play a fundamental role.

Honey production is led by women and younger family members

Each bee box produces 1 kg of honey per harvest. Carlos can usually harvest two or three times a year, and the medicinal properties of the honey command a high price:

The development impacts of forest and watershed conservation don’t end there. The Calani family also received support from downstream water users in El Torno to build a two-room brick house. After many years of living in a small shack with adobe walls and a motacú palm roof, their new home is nearly ready. “We are grateful for this new house that we have earned for being a part of watershared” says Teodosia, smiling broadly.

We are grateful for this new house that we have earned for being a part of watershared”

Carlos is very happy for becoming a guardian of the forest by conserving 38 ha of forest in the buffer zone of the Amboro National Park. At the same time, and with conservation resources, Carlos has improved his family’s quality of life. From the Calani’s new house one sees a grandiose landscape of one of the most biodiverse protected areas in the planet. An even greater value of these forests is the protection of the water factory that is fundamental for economic growth of the greater Santa Cruz region. Carlos and almost a thousand other small-scale farmers around the park are now protecting their water factory—and improving their livelihoods at the same time.