Bolivia lost 18.7 million hectares of its Amazon forest in 13 years

Berthy Vaca reports for El Deber:

The damage is revealed by a report called Amazonia at the crossroads, which looks at six activities that pressure and threaten the Amazon in nine countries. Agricultural expansion is one of the main causes of deforestation in the country.

On June 5 of this year, an international report was released on the pressures and threats that the Amazon receives through six human activities: roads, hydroelectric, mining, oil, burning and deforestation, in the nine countries that share it. And Bolivia is not the exception, because in the Amazon segment that corresponds, the burning and forest fires have made 18.7 million hectares of forests disappear between 2005 and 2018.

The data are part of the study carried out by the Amazonian Geo-referenced Socio-environmental Information Network (Raisg), of which the Friends of Nature Foundation (FAN) is a part with a seat in Bolivia and author of the study in our country.

The research is based on a model that focuses on the Amazon basin, without the inclusion of the basins of the Orinoco, Araguaia, Tocantins and the North Atlantic basins and coastal areas.

In the Bolivian Amazon, as it has been happening for years, there is a vision of development focused on the conversion of land use. In other words, the landscape and high forest potential are being transformed towards an economy based on the expansion of extensive agriculture and livestock, which is not very sustainable due to its low production yields and scarce economic returns for the country, says Raisg.

The damage caused

Saúl Cuéllar, project manager of the FAN, gave details of the depredation caused especially in the department of Santa Cruz, where the expansion of the agricultural and livestock frontier is responsible for 78% of the deforestation of its Amazon basin.

Cuéllar explained that the Amazon basin of Bolivia (Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando and La Paz) comprises 71,349,715 hectares, of which 6,054,280 were deforested between 1976 and 2015.

Also, in Bolivia, between 2005 and 2018, 88% of the fires and forest fires were concentrated in the Amazon region, affecting 18.7 million hectares, consuming an annual average of four million hectares, due to the lack of measures of prevention, to the fire initiated to enable a plot destined to the sowing of crops or to the establishment of pastures for livestock, whose burning is usually out of control.

“On the map, South America is seen as taking activities (see infographic), all colored by pressure and threats, because it is intervening with infrastructure and development, without considering the role played by indigenous territories and protected areas,” said Natalia Calderón, executive director of the FAN.

Indigenous lands, a barrier

The Amazon, a region of 7.8 million km2, is shared by Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela and French Guiana, where 33 million people live, including 1.5 million indigenous people from 385 peoples’ groups.

Protected natural areas and indigenous territories occupy more than 45% of the Amazon and represent the most preserved areas of the region, but roads, hydroelectric power, mining, oil, burning and deforestation are pushing it to a point of no return, since the extractive industry and the integration of the Amazonian economies to the global market occur through the trade of natural resources and the high dependence on the fluctuation of the prices of basic products.

The Amazon has the most biodiverse rainforest and the largest reserve of fresh water on the planet, but the extractive industry is causing an enormous impact on this natural wealth and the rulers do not articulate policies to prevent its collapse, the Raisg report points out.

Bolivian Thoughts opinion: Saddening and infuriating feelings arose as I read the above article …. we’re reaching a point of no return and still, our society keeps pushing us to the edge … it is overwhelmingly disappointing!

Published by Bolivian Thoughts

Senior managerial experience on sustainable development projects.

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