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Indigenous partners reduce deforestation in the Bolivian Amazon
Roads are major drivers of deforestation in tropical forests. WCS support to the Tacana indigenous people resulted in lower deforestation rates along a major road. within the Tacana Indigenous Territory, compared to areas outside their territory. This demonstrates that indigenous communities with WCS support are effective at sustainably managing their forest lands.
The Greater Madidi-Tambopata Landscape plunges from more than 6,000 m in the high Andes to 180 m in the lowland Amazonian rainforest. The 110,000 km2 area spans northern Bolivia and southern Peru and encompasses five protected areas and the territories of six indigenous groups: Araona, Ese Eja, Leco, Mosten, T’simane, and Tacana. Deforestation for agriculture and ranching is increasing in the area, particularly along roads used as an immigration corridor for Aymara and Quechua speaking people from the highlands. WCS has been working with the Tacana since 2000, supporting their efforts to secure collective legal tenure over 3,890 km2 and implement a land-use and natural resource management strategy. After successfully presenting their land claim to the Government of Bolivia, the group built consensus on a land-use plan and natural resource management strategy amongst the 20 communities living in the territory. The land-use strategy prioritizes sustainable livelihoods, biodiversity conservation, and forest protection. Using satellite remote sensing imagery, WCS staff were able to measure deforestation rates across all of the Bolivian sections of the landscape (2005-2014), and along the San Buenaventura-Ixiamas Road within and outside the Tacana Indigenous.
Satellite image analysis showed that deforestation along the San Buenaventura-Alto Madidi Road between 2005 and 2014 was almost three times greater outside (2.89% per year) compared to within the Tacana Indigenous Territory (1.06% per year) where WCS works
For their successful efforts to reduce deforestation and manage their forest resources sustainably, the Tacana were awarded the prestigious United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Equator Prize. This is the second Equator Prize for WCS partners in the Madidi landscape. In 2010, the Tsimane Mosetene Regional Council was awarded a prize for the co-management of the Pilon Lajas Protected Area.
Between 2005 and 2014 deforestation inside the Tacana Indigenous Territory was half that recorded within the adjacent Madidi National Park and 100 times less than that observed within public lands adjacent to the road.
WCS helped the Tacana indigenous people secure legal rights to 389,000 hectares of their forest adjacent to Madidi National Park in Bolivia.