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Research Report

The context of deforestation and forest degradation in Bolivia: Drivers, agents and institutions

Robert Müller
Pablo Pacheco
Juan Carlos Montero
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2014
Pages: 92
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-2)

    Around half of Bolivia is covered by forests. However, at the same time, a significant amount of forests is lost every year. Deforestation rates are highest in the lowlands, where most of the forests are concentrated. Forest degradation, instead, has been more severe in Andean forests. Deforestation trends have changed over time, with relatively low rates until the mid-1980s and increasing rates till the mid-2000s. Recently, deforestation rates seem to have stabilized on a high level, associated with a number of drivers related to the political economy of land and forest-use.

    Until the mid-1980s, Bolivian forests did not face important...

  2. (pp. 3-23)

    Bolivia is among the countries with the largest areas of tropical forest (FAO 2011). There are around 50 million ha of forest in the country (Cuellar et. al. 2012), around 80% of which are located in the lowlands¹ and the remaining 20% are on the eastern slope of the Andes range, on the inter-Andean valleys and to a lesser degree, on the Altiplano (highlands) (Map 1). The greatest land-use changes take place in the lowlands, so we focus on this region, although there is remarkable biodiversity in mountain forests (Araujo et al. 2010).

    There is wide forest ecosystem diversity due...

  3. (pp. 24-38)

    In the mid-1980s, the government of Bolivia embarked on deep structural reforms aimed at reversing a drastic economic crisis caused by the collapse of tin mining–which was the main source of revenue for the State–and aimed at establishing new conditions for economic growth. To this end, measures of economic stabilization and structural adjustment were adopted (Morales and Sachs 1987). While the former implied short-term measures to address inflation and manage public deficit; the latter–of neoliberal orientation–were intended to establish a new model of economic growth and social redistribution based on free market principles. The main measures...

  4. (pp. 39-51)

    Bolivia has been one of the few countries to take a critical position on REDD38. Although the Bolivian Government together with a coalition of other countries known as Rainforest Coalition was one of the main drivers of an offset scheme for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) through avoided deforestation, later it took a critical position toward market mechanisms, which were privileged by the United Nations Working Group in charge of REDD discussions39. This rejection of carbon markets was one of the reasons why Bolivian representatives did not support the negotiation process at COP 16 in Cancún.

    Subsequently, the Bolivian...

  5. (pp. 52-67)

    This section analyzes the potential solutions to reduce deforestation and forest degradation in Bolivia and also discusses the efficiency of relevant current public policies. The first part explores some potential measures to mitigate deforestation and forest degradation from a technical perspective, without analyzing the current political context yet. The second part reviews current Bolivian policies in relation to forests and climate change. The section concludes with an analysis of the so-called “3Es” of these policies, that is, effectiveness (achieving significant emission reductions), efficiency (reducing emissions at a minimum cost) and equity (distributing benefits and costs equally). This section is also...

  6. (pp. 68-72)

    This paper aims to discuss the dynamics of deforestation and forest degradation, the origin of which is in long-term structural trends in the history of lowland occupation and to analyze them in relation to recent political history, including the context of climate change policies developed by the Bolivian Government. The case of Bolivia arouses great interest because of the government’s position in the international debate, contrary to market approaches for promoting carbon sequestration in forests to mitigate climate change, known as REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) in international negotiation processes. The Bolivian position on climate change is...