October 28, 2020

Protected areas and indigenous peoples, the hope of the Bolivian Amazon

Protected areas and indigenous communities in the Bolivian Amazon have a fundamental role for the preservation of the vast biodiversity in fauna and flora that is home to the "lung of the world", now threatened by fire.

In an interview with Efe, the English biologist Robert Wallace, from the Society for the Conservation of Wildlife (WCS), highlighted the importance of protected areas in Bolivia to preserve the incalculable value of the biodiversity of the country.

This renowned expert said that about 28 percent of the Bolivian Amazon "is protected within protected areas," essential for maintaining favorable temperatures in the face of the climate crisis and for the conservation of the thousands of species that live in them.

"It has an important importance for climate regulation, the challenge now is to ensure that in the future these mechanisms are maintained, since they are fundamental to regulate the climate," he said.

Wallace mentioned some of the most important protected areas in the Bolivian Amazon, such as the Madidi National Park in northern La Paz, considered the protected area with the greatest biodiversity in the world.

According to the results of an expedition conducted by the WCS for two and a half years, Madidi is home to around 8,880 species, of which 124 are candidates for new science.

He also highlighted the Noel Kempff National Park, in the eastern department of Santa Cruz, recognized as a Natural Heritage of Humanity and that is threatened by the fires that began more than a month ago in the Bolivian Chiquitania.

The biologist also emphasized the global importance of the Moxos plains wetland, in the department of Beni, considered the largest in the Amazon.

The Santa Cruz Governorate reported Wednesday that 41 percent of the affectation by fires in Bolivia is in protected areas and reiterated its request to declare a national disaster.

All of these protected areas are now more than ever to be preserved, Wallace warned, as the Brazilian Amazon has suffered forest fires since August that have worried even presidents and personalities around the world.

Fires in Bolivia have devastated more than one million hectares of forests and pastures, according to data from the Santa Cruz Governorate, in Chiquitania, a transition zone between the Chaco and the Amazon.

Aboriginal peoples are also of great relevance to continue being the guardians of the forests, with indigenous territories that account for 25 percent of the Amazon in Bolivia, to preserve the "lung of the world," said the expert.

"It is proven that indigenous peoples are making commitments to the conservation, maintenance of forests and their vision of development that is towards a sustainable use of natural resources," he said.

Wallace expressed concern about fires in Bolivia and Brazil and recommended analyzing strategies so that affected areas can maintain their water sources and wildlife.

In addition to creating strategies so that the cycles of that system do not vary with climate change.

"Over the years there will be more dramatic, more intense dry seasons, so the risk of fire will increase, so it is important to think about how we are going to prepare for that," he said.

Bolivia has 7 percent of the total Amazon, the green heart of the planet that it shares with Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana.

The Amazon has about seven million square kilometers, of which Brazil owns 60 percent.

15 percent of all the world's fresh water is in the Amazon, which accounts for 50 percent of the planet's total tropical forests, plus it is estimated to house 10 percent of all species of flora and fauna in the world, according to the expert.

Wallace is director of the Great Landscape Conservation Madidi-Tambopata program at WCS, an organization dedicated to the conservation of wildlife and natural landscapes.

The biologist works with a wide variety of community natural resource management projects, also cooperates in the conservation planning and monitoring of protected areas in the country.

Yolanda Salazar

. (tagsToTranslate) Protected areas (t) (t) indigenous (t) hope (t) Amazonia

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