YES! Independently from what dictates current Constitution and government policies. Not only to please local and international environmental NGOs. Not to have access to foreign loans or grants. Not because of indigenous groups BUT for everyone’s sake!! Otherwise, our livelihood will no be sustainable, not here, not in Austria nor Malaysia.
This cartoon appeared in El Dia newspaper on 7/4/2011. There is a lonely tree with an indigenous person at the top. On the sides, not only coca growers, campesino farmers, small loggers are trying to bring it down. There are also the big mechanized interests that are also trying to profit from the tree, the environment. In addition, there are also narcotraffickers who also go further in deep forest, in order to avoid police control and witness-free areas.
Unfortunately, little is being done do control or manage our resources. Noise and air pollution are rampant in our cities. Slash and burn practices, illegal logging and illegal settlements compete with pollutant mining practices nationwide. To make things worse, some of our public institutions that had a relevant role like the Forestry Superintendence are no longer in place. Laws that should regulate not only ownership but how a given industry should take care of our natural resources have only reached 30% progress in the last five years, i.e. mining law.
Many Bolivians may not know but environmental degradation and biodiversity loss is moving at accelerated rates. Pilcomayo River who was rich in fishery and provided not only food but income to neighboring communities has seen a 70% reduction of fish this year. Some years ago, the Chacaltaya Mountain in La Paz, pride for an all-year-round skiing, is just a memory, other glaciers around La Paz are also starting to melt down.
Perhaps the latest environmental damage that can still be minimized is in the TIPNIS area, there are alternatives to the road construction. Isiboro Secure inhabitants have the same worry as the defenseless person on the top of the tree in this cartoon. So, it is not only the environment that suffers, but let us not forget there is increasing social unrest due to narcotrafficking, illegal takeovers and lower incomes over the long run. On this special issue, we do not need to align next or opposed to political views, race, social status, or preferences of any sort; this is a major problem that will affect ALL of us sooner or later.
What else can us, as individuals say or do? For now, only express our deepest concern and just hope/pray it will not be too late to protect our environment.