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Bolivia (Plurinational State of) - Country Profile

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Biodiversity Facts

Status and trends of biodiversity, including benefits from biodiversity and ecosystem services

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The Plurinational State of Bolivia is a landlocked country in western-central South America. In 2009, the country adopted a new Constitution whose Article 349 declares that "Natural resources are the inalienable and indivisible property and direct dominion of the Bolivian people and will be administrated, in the collective interest, by the State”. The Bolivian Government is committed to conserving biodiversity and developing sustainable production systems through the implementation of non-market-based approaches and integrated community-based management by Indigenous Peoples, campesino communities and small-scale producers. In 2010, Bolivia adopted the historic Law on the Rights of Mother Earth. This was followed by the adoption of the Framework Law on Mother Earth and Integral Development for Living Well in 2012, focused primarily on climate change mitigation and adaptation although clearly stressing the importance of implementing holistic measures for biodiversity and cultural conservation to “live well”. Against this background, the Patriotic Agenda 2025 was adopted in 2013 as a comprehensive programme for achieving sustainable development in the country.

Bolivia is among the 15 most biodiverse countries in the world. Twenty-four new vertebrate species have been recorded since the fourth national report was prepared in 2014. The country also possesses a high level of genetic diversity and is a centre of origin for domesticated plants and their wild relatives. Together with Peru, it is the centre of origin for the potato, with more than 4,300 native potato varieties in existence today. Recent reports reveal that, between 2010 and 2013, trade in products derived from biodiversity increased by 22%, generating a total value of 1,106 million dollars. Notably, in the first half of 2014, exports of these products had already generated 197 million dollars. Chestnut and quinoa make up 82% of these exports however in recent years wild cacao, maca, caiman leather, vicuña fiber, copaiba, almond, cusi and acai have also become important export products. Three thousand plant species are used for medicinal purposes at local or regional levels.

Deforestation is among the main causes of biodiversity loss in Bolivia. The main land uses contributing to this include conversion to livestock pasture, mechanized agriculture and small-scale agriculture. The most affected areas are the Yungas ecoregion, the humid southwestern Amazon forest and the dry forests of Chiquitano and Chaco. Deforestation levels are highest in the administrative division (Department) of Santa Cruz, while significantly lower in other Departments, namely, Beni, Cochabamba and Tarija. It is estimated that one-tenth of Bolivia’s forests has been lost since 1990. Notably, deforestation levels in protected areas and in the territories managed by Indigenous Peoples and campesino communities are significantly lower than outside them.

Most of Bolivia’s threatened species are concentrated in the Department of La Paz, followed by Cochabamba and Santa Cruz. At the ecoregion level, most threatened species are found in the Yungas, followed by northern Puna and the southwestern Amazon.

Main pressures on and drivers of change to biodiversity (direct and indirect)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The main anthropogenic threats to biodiversity include the advancing agricultural frontier, mainly for the agro-industrial production of monocultures for export (mainly soybean, grain corn, sunflower and sorghum) and extensive livestock (beef) production. According to the Ministry of Economy and Public Finance (2013), the surface of cultivated land grew by 21% between 2005 and 2012, and will be increased by another 6 million hectares through to 2025. In some instances, threats are also produced by the uncontrolled expansion of mining activities and, in other instances, by an expansion in unsuitable infrastructure.

Anthropogenic threats that directly affect species include poaching for luxury markets (e.g. vicuña, suri, macaws, giant otter) or sport, without regard for traditional consumption practices; selective illegal logging; extraction, sale or trafficking of wildlife species for illegal export or as pets; extensive livestock production practices, such as the burning of grasslands; pollution of water bodies as a result of mining, discharge of municipal waste, industrial chemicals and agrochemicals; extraction of species that exist in restricted or isolated habitats or whose populations are fragmented with a low level of connectivity and low genetic variability; loss of food resources due to competition in hunting, livestock breeding and commercial fishing.

Threats linked to climate variability and climate change relate primarily to increased floods, drought, frost, heat and other extreme weather events. Climate changes expected in Bolivia could have severe impacts on biodiversity, especially in the high Andean plain where a process of rapid desertification is facilitated due to reduced precipitation and increased variability in temperature. In contrast, the greatest threat to biodiversity in lowland areas is the advance of the agricultural frontier.

Measures to Enhance Implementation of the Convention

Implementation of the NBSAP

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Adopted in 2001, Bolivia’s first NBSAP consists of 5 key components: (i) conserve ecosystems, species and genetic resources of ecological, economic and cultural importance; (ii) attract investment in biodiversity products and functions; (iii) develop national capacity for biodiversity management; (iv) develop local management for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use; (v) education, awareness-raising, communication and social control regarding sustainable biodiversity management. Actions taken in these areas are highlighted below.

Bolivia began revising and updating its NBSAP in 2014 and intends to complete this process in 2015. The revision will cover the 2015-2025 period and is being prepared in the light of national policies that have been adopted since 2006.

Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Based on Pillar 6 of the Patriotic Agenda 2025 on “diversified sovereign production and holistic development free from the dictates of capitalist markets”, Bolivia is promoting the optimal usage of irrigation water, a transition to additional systems for intensive livestock production, integrated water resources and watershed management, among other actions.

According to the National Service for Protected Areas (SERNAP), there are currently 102 projects under implementation and 84 activities related to tourism, distributed among Bolivia’s 22 protected areas which comprise 23% of the country’s territory. Since the fourth national report was prepared in 2014, protected areas have increased in the Departments of Beni, Santa Cruz, Cochabamba and Tarija.

In 2013, the Coordination Unit of the National Council on Ecological Agricultural Production provided technological support to 6,000 producers to plant 8,500 hectares of organic crops. Bolivia also intends to develop actions to protect the genetic heritage of agricultural biodiversity and prohibits the introduction, production, use, release into the environment and commercialization of GM seeds.

A collection of 16,006 accessions (seeds) of plants (e.g. beans, quinoa, lupine, cañahua, amaranth, potatoes, peppers, achojchas) is protected and preserved. The Agricultural Sectoral Development Plan (2014-2018) “Towards 2025” presents an assessment for the years 2010-2013 and confirms an increase in the number of genebanks during this period.

The Center for Aquaculture Research and Development is equipped with a laboratory and equipment for fish farming activities which is a growing industry in Bolivia.

Within the framework of the Law on the Environment, a control and auditing system for activities that have the potential to generate environmental pollution has been established.

Bolivia is currently carrying out a pilot project to record traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources.

Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Numerous legislations and mechanisms have been adopted in the recent past to implement Bolivia’s vision for biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. A list is provided below however is not exhaustive.

- Law on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007) (Bolivia was the first country in the world to adopt this UN Declaration as national law. Bolivia recognizes the customary use of biological resources by Indigenous Peoples and campesino communities in all legislations and regulations on this subject.)

- Law on the Rights of Mother Earth (2010)

- Framework Law on Mother Earth and Integral Development for Living Well (2012)

- Plurinational Fund for Mother Earth (established under the Framework Law on Mother Earth and Integral Development for Living Well to generate financial support for managing the country’s life-systems and is mainly linked to in situ conservation)

- Patriotic Agenda 2025 (2013)

- Act on Ancestral Traditional Bolivian Medicine (2013)

- Education Act (2010)

- Joint Mitigation and Adaptation Mechanism for the Integral and Sustainable Management of Forests and Mother Earth (2014) (this is Bolivia’s alternative to the UN REDD+ Programme)

- Strategy on Gender Complementarity (for Living Well) (within the context of the National Programme on Bioculture)

- Agricultural Sectoral Development Plan (2014-2018)

- Integrated Programme for Solid Waste Management (2011-2015)

- Master Plan for the National System of Protected Areas

- National Afforestation and Reforestation Plan

- Andean Ecosystems Strategy

Bolivia will not ratify the Nagoya Protocol on ABS in the light of national legislation which mandates the non-commodification of natural processes and genetic resources, and prohibits biopiracy.

Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

A comprehensive monitoring system, including quantitative and qualitative indicators to assess the current state of biodiversity, temporal and spatial trends and the consequences of biodiversity loss, is being developed. The National System for Environmental Information (SNIA) currently generates reports on environmental impact assessments, environmental control and quality.

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  • United Nations Environment Programme