Forest CoverTotal forest area: 58,740,000 ha % of land area: 54.2%
Primary forest cover: 29,360,000 ha % of land area: 27.1% % total forest area: 50.0%
Deforestation Rates, 2000-2005Annual change in forest cover: -270,200 ha Annual deforestation rate: -0.5% Change in defor. rate since '90s: 4.4% Total forest loss since 1990: -4,055,000 ha Total forest loss since 1990:-6.5%
Primary or "Old-growth" forests Annual loss of primary forests: -135200 ha Annual deforestation rate: -0.5% Change in deforestation rate since '90s: 4.5% Primary forest loss since 1990: -676,000 ha Primary forest loss since 1990:-6.5%
Forest ClassificationPublic: n/a Private: n/a Other: n/a Use Production: 0% Protection: 0% Conservation: 20% Social services: 0% Multiple purpose: 80% None or unknown: 0
Forest Area BreakdownTotal area: 58,740,000 ha Primary: 29,360,000 ha Modified natural: 29,360,000 ha Semi-natural: n/a Production plantation: 20,000 ha Production plantation: n/a
PlantationsPlantations, 2005: 20,000 ha % of total forest cover: n.s.% Annual change rate (00-05): n/a
Carbon storageAbove-ground biomass: 7,828 M t Below-ground biomass: 2,740 M t
Area annually affected byFire: 1,907,000 ha Insects: n/a Diseases: n/a
Number of tree species in IUCN red listNumber of native tree species: 2,700 Critically endangered: 4 Endangered: 9 Vulnerable: 57
Bolivia has substantial rainforest cover in its lowland areas: the Bolivian Amazon covers 229,985 square miles (59.6 million hectares) of which roughly two-thirds is forested. About half of Bolivia's forest cover consists of primary forest.
From 1986-1990, the country had a low deforestation rate—about 0.2 percent annually—due to several factors including the Andean-based government's inattention to the lowland parts of the country, the extreme poverty of the country (the government could not afford to offer subsidies to forest developers or construct infrastructure), and the weak export market of this land-locked country. However, during the 1990s, Bolivia's deforestation rate more than doubled to 270,400 hectares per year. The government granted some 20 million hectares to timber companies, while large swaths of forest were cleared for soybean and coca cultivation. Though the government passed laws that required the logging industry to replant forests to ensure sustainability, loopholes made it possible for many firms to bypass the requirement. Further, illegal logging operations smuggled timber into Brazil where it was exported as Brazilian wood.
Today logging continues in Bolivia, though the country has now certified more than two million hectares of its forests, making the it the world leader in tropical forest certification, according to WWF. In 2005 the certified forest sector in Bolivia generated $16 million from exports, a substantial amount given Bolivia's relatively paltry volume of reported wood exports (2,000 metric tons in 2002 according to FAO).
Greater threats to Bolivia's forests come from oil and gas development, commercial agricultural expansion, subsistence agriculture and fuelwood collection, and land-clearing for cattle pasture. In 2005, fires set for land-clearing burned out of control during the record Amazon drought. All told, some 500,000 hectares of forest and pasture land went up in smoke. Agricultural fires are likely to worsen in the future as population pressures mount and the Amazon region experiences drier conditions due to climate change.
It is unclear how the election of Bolivia's first-ever president of indigenous-descent, Evo Morales, will affect development in rainforest areas. As of February 2006, Morales had not blocked energy projects in the country, nor called for expansion of the country's coca crop.
Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere and is dependent on foreign aid from multilateral lenders and foreign governments. Bolivia's high international debt has presented interesting opportunities for conservation. In 1987 Conservation International initiated the first "debt-for-nature" swap when it purchased $650,000 worth of Bolivian debt for only $100,000. In exchange for being relieved of the obligation to repay a portion of its international debt, the country agreed to set aside funds to promote conservation by encouraging sustainable development, expanding environmental education programs, purchasing land, and improving land management. After the apparent success of the program, in December 1996, the U.S. and Bolivian governments agreed to protect 2.2 million acres (880 000 hectares) of rainforest and to promote sustainable development in and around Noel Kempff Mercado National Park, in part of an international effort to mitigate the emissions of greenhouse gases. In December 2005, the project was expanded to 3.8 million acres (1.5 million hectares).
Including Noel Kempff Mercado National Park, more than 11 percent of Bolivia is officially protected. Bolivia is the twelfth most biodiverse country on Earth with 2,194 known species of amphibians, birds, mammals, and reptiles, and more than 17,000 species of plants. In 2005, Bolivia's biodiversity made science news headlines when Dr. Robert Wallace of the Wildlife Conservation Society discovered a new species of titi monkey in the Madidi protected area. The monkey is now known for its distinctive territorial song.
As Bolivia plans dramatic agro-expansion, forests may pay the price (PART II)
(09/12/2014) In an August 14 announcement, Bolivian Vice President, Alvaro Garcia Linera, laid out an ambitious plan to increase the country’s cropland by 250 percent, and triple its agricultural output. The proposal is touted as way to increase both food and economic security for the inland South American country, but what will it mean for its forests?
Illegal tropical deforestation driven globally by “agro-conversion”
(09/11/2014) Nearly 50 percent of tropical deforestation to make room for commercial agriculture between 2000 and 2012 was done so illegally. That’s a key finding of a report published by the U.S.-based nonprofit organization Forest Trends looking at the global tide of tropical forest “agro-conversion.”
Bolivian vice president proposes unprecedented agricultural expansion (PART 1)
(09/10/2014) On August 14, the Bolivian Vice President, Alvaro Garcia Linera, made a startling announcement: by 2025, Bolivia was going to make two striking developments - first, it would expand all cultivated land to 2.5 times its present area, and second, it would triple food production from 15 to 45 million tons.
Scientists uncover five new species of 'toupee' monkeys in the Amazon
(09/02/2014) While saki monkeys may be characterized by floppy mops of hair that resemble the worst of human toupees, these acrobatic, tree-dwelling primates are essential for dispersing seeds. After long being neglected by both scientists and conservationists, a massive research effort by one intrepid researcher has revealed the full-scale of saki monkey diversity, uncovering five new species.
How do we save the world's vanishing old-growth forests?
(08/26/2014) There's nothing in the world like a primary forest, which has never been industrially logged or cleared by humans. They are often described as cathedral-like, due to pillar-like trees and carpet-like undergrowth. Yet, the world's primary forests—also known as old-growth forests—are falling every year, and policy-makers are not doing enough to stop it.
Size matters: small animals abundant in fragmented forests, large animals not
(06/25/2014) Habitat fragmentation and hunting are both distinct critical issues facing forests today that require their own countermeasures. Yet, much research has chosen to conflate the two, potentially leading to ineffective ecosystem management. According to a new study, the interaction of both factors can contradict the effects of hunting and fragmentation alone, revealing a research and management gap that urgently needs to be filled.
Ants plant rainforests, one seed at a time
(04/14/2014) Deforestation is destroying forests around the world, but its effects are especially obvious in the Amazon Basin. Due to cattle ranching, soybean farming, logging, and slash-and-burn agriculture, the rainforest is disappearing at a rapid pace. But a recent study published in the Journal of Ecology offers a unique solution to replanting the deforested landscapes: ants.
Emissions from rainforest logging average 16% of those from deforestation
(04/08/2014) Carbon emissions from selective logging operations in tropical rainforests are roughly a sixth of those from outright forest clearing, finds a new study that evaluated 13 forestry concessions in six countries. The study analyzed carbon losses from elements of logging operations, including timber extraction, collateral damage to surrounding vegetation, and logging infrastructure like roads and skid trails.
Controversial Amazon dams may have exacerbated biblical flooding
(03/16/2014) Environmentalists and scientists raised howls of protest when the Santo Antônio and Jirau Dams were proposed for the Western Amazon in Brazil, claiming among other issues that the dams would raise water levels on the Madeira River, potentially leading to catastrophic flooding. It turns out they may have been right: last week a federal Brazilian court ordered a new environmental impact study on the dams given suspicion that they have worsened recent flooding in Brazil and across the border in Bolivia.
Featured video: bears work together to take down camera traps
(10/24/2013) Scientists with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) have captured stunning images of Andean bear families taking down camera traps in Bolivia's Apolobamba National Natural Area of Integrated Management. In one series of images a mother and her two cubs bite, claw, and whack one of the cameras. However even as they destroy one camera, the bears' antics are captured by another as researchers typically set several cameras to capture different views of animals, a process that helps them identify individuals.
Scientists discover that threatened bird migrates entirely within Amazon Basin
(09/11/2013) When one thinks of bird migrations, it's usually a north-south route that follows seasonal climates. But researchers in the Amazon have tracked, for the first time, a largely-unknown long-distance migration that sticks entirely to the Amazon Basin. Using satellite telemetry, scientists tracked a pair of Orinoco geese (Neochen jubata) from Peru and a male from Western Brazil, who both migrated to the Llanos de Moxos, a vast savanna and Amazonian watershed in Bolivia. The research has shown that the Orinoco geese—which breeds in both Peru and Brazil—depends on wetlands in the Llanos de Moxos for much of the year.
Deforestation rates for Amazon countries outside Brazil
(06/26/2013) Deforestation has sharply increased in Amazon countries outside of Brazil, finds a new analysis based on satellite data. Using data from Terra-i, O-Eco's InfoAmazonia team has developed updated forest cover maps for Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, French Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela. The results reveal an increasing trend in forest clearing since 2004.
Bird extravaganza: scientists discover 15 new species of birds in the Amazon
(06/12/2013) From 2000-2009, scientists described on average seven new bird species worldwide every year. Discovering a new bird is one of the least common of any species group, given that birds are highly visible, mobile, and have been scrutinized for centuries by passionate ornithologists and birders. But descriptions this year already blows away the record year over the last decade (in 2001 when nine new birds were described): scientists working in the southern Amazon have recorded an incredible 15 new species of birds according to the Portuguese publication Capa Aves. In fact, this is the largest group of new birds uncovered in the Brazilian in the Amazon in 140 years.
Featured video: giant anteater wallowing and scratching like a dog
(05/28/2013) Scientists have recently taken rare and incredible footage of a giant anteater with a camera trap in the Barba Azul Nature Reserve of Bolivia. This footage captures a giant anteater wallowing in a pit of mud. The animal lies down, rolling around and scratching itself, for a period of, what seems to be, over a minute.
Is it possible to reduce the impact of oil drilling in the Amazon rainforest?
(05/02/2013) Oil extraction in the Amazon rainforest has been linked to severe environmental degradation — including deforestation and pollution — which in some areas has spurred violent social conflict. Yet a vast extent of the Colombian, Peruvian, Ecuadorian, Bolivian, and Brazilian Amazon is currently under concession for oil and gas exploration and production. It seems clear that much of this hydrocarbon development is going to proceed whether environmentalists and human rights groups like it or not.
Bolivia leads the way in wetland protection
(03/04/2013) Bolivia continues to be a champion for Amazonian conservation. On February 2, 2013, Bolivia celebrated World Wetlands Day with the designation of more than 6.9 million hectares of the Llanos de Moxos to the Ramsar Convention's Wetlands of International Importance. In addition to being the largest Ramsar designation to date, Bolivia now claims 14.8 million hectares of protected wetland, making it the leading Contracting Party out of 164 participating countries in terms of Ramsar site surface area.
First strike: nearly 200 illegal loggers arrested in massive sting across 12 countries
(02/20/2013) One-hundred-and-ninety-seven illegal loggers across a dozen Central and South American countries have been arrested during INTERPOL's first strike against widespread forestry crime. INTERPOL, or The International Criminal Police Organization, worked with local police forces to take a first crack at illegal logging. In all the effort, known as Operation Lead, resulted in the seizure of 50,000 cubic meters of wood worth around $8 million.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions generated from mongabay.com operations (server, data transfer, travel) are mitigated through an association with Anthrotect,
an organization working with Afro-indigenous and Embera communities to protect forests in Colombia's Darien region. Anthrotect is protecting the habitat of mongabay's mascot: the scale-crested pygmy tyrant.
"Rainforest" is used interchangeably with "rain forest" on this site. "Jungle" is generally not used.