Illegal hunting, human invasions, and logging and timber extraction
Two measures are needed to improve monitoring and patrols. First, several maintenance workers should be promoted to park guards. Even the park director manifested this need. In this way, the park can replace retiring park guards and increase the total number of guards dedicated to vigilance and monitoring.
Second, cooperation with the National Guard should be increased. During the relocation process, there was close cooperation, because there were mixed commissions made up of National Guard and Inparques agents. These commissions conducted joint patrols periodically in order to stop field expansions, deforestation, home construction, and to carry out administrative procedures related to any law violations.
In the illegal logging case, a joint investigation is needed to determine who is involved. This investigation will require (among other actions) night stakeouts in the places where illegal logging occurs, such as Cuira and La Elvira.
Monitoring of hunted species is needed to measure the impact it has on the fauna's population levels. To do this, alliances or partnerships with universities or other research institutions should be formed. The researchers should be able to use the park's excellent facilities and accommodations.
Since Cuira River Basin is so important because of future dam construction, the relocation process begun in 1985 should be completed. The same strategies used in the past should be re-implemented, including creating an interinstitutional commission that periodically meets with the inhabitants in order to consider the plans, come to agreements, and resolve any conflicts or problems prior to implementation. The National Land Institute (INTI) should be involved in the commission. INTI is part of Ministry of Agriculture and Land (MAT) and has authority to relocate inhabitants to areas where agriculture is permitted. In addition, the Ministry of Finance should be included in order to solicit the financial resources needed to pay compensation.
While farmers are waiting to receive compensation (intended to minimize the social-economical impact such a relocation process could have), they should be allowed to temporarily continue their farming activities as long as they participate in environmental education campaigns sponsored by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. The focus of such environmental education programs should be on conservation farming that aims to minimize negative impacts and erosion, increases yield, and stops agricultural expansion into the park.
Lack and poor distribution of staff
In addition to compensating back pay, Guatopo's staff needs to be redistributed. First, retiring park guards should be paid retirement and the budget increased to promote maintenance personnel to park guard level. In addition, staff should be reassigned to areas in need, such as Guatopo Creek.
More park guards will make the patrol shifts more flexible and reasonable. Park guards will have more time to attend training courses and also to attend to familial and social needs. Inparques should form strategic partnerships with NGOs and other governmental institutions to offer training programs and to include Guatopo guards in such events.
Insufficient budget and equipment
Guatopo, like other national parks, needs increased autonomy to make decisions related to everyday park operations. For example, they should be able to buy fuel and materials to maintain administration and recreation facilities. For this, Inparques' Central Office should reinstate their monthly budget program for parks, which would allow parks to cover daily expenses without having to depend so heavily on central administration. Monthly budgets were assigned up until 2001. Reasons for its elimination are unknown.
Radio communication equipment is a priority, considering the park's expanse and the isolation of most of its park guard stations. Communication will permit rapid response to diverse problems, from park rule infractions to emergencies. In addition, 4X4 vehicles and/or motorcycles are needed to make patrols and inspections in distinct parts of the park. In Cuira Basin, which has steep slopes and dirt roads that are usually in poor conditions because of the rains, the park should consider getting animals like horses or donkeys for transportation.
Paying back-pay is not a problem unique to Guatopo; this problem is common to many national parks. Inparques' budget must be redesigned and a payment schedule is needed. This requires interinstitutional cooperation between Inparques, the Ministry of Finance, and the Central Budget Office.