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.
Bolivia's aggressive agricultural development plans threaten forests
(06/08/2015) Bolivia's government, supported by some small and most large producers, pushes to expand agricultural lands at the expense of the nation's environment. In April 2015, small-scale Bolivian farmers gathered for a summit with stakeholders from a very different part of the agricultural sector: commercial farmers who oversee vast farms and watch international exchange markets just as closely as the weather.
62M ha of Latin American forests cleared for agriculture since 2001
(05/19/2015) Over 62 million hectares (240,000 square miles) of forest across Latin America — an area roughly the size of Texas or the United Kingdom — were cleared for new croplands and pastureland between 2001 and 2013, find a study published in Environmental Research Letters.
China’s investment in Latin America taking toll on the environment, setting the stage for conflict
(05/18/2015) China has been investing heavily in Latin America’s natural resources and crude oil. Recently, the country even pledged to invest $250 billion over the next decade to strengthen its presence in the region, and compete with the U.S. But this increasing Chinese trade and investment in Latin America is also increasing environmental and social conflict, finds a new report published by Boston University.
What's the current deforestation rate in the Amazon rainforest?
(05/15/2015) Nearly two-thirds of the Amazon rainforest is located in Brazil, making it the biggest component in the region's deforestation rate. Helpfully, Brazil also has the best systems for tracking deforestation, with the government and Imazon, a national civil society organization, releasing updates on a quarterly and monthly basis using MODIS satellite data, respectively. Both the Brazilian government and Imazon release more accurate data on an annual basis using higher resolution Landsat satellite imagery.
Rainforest loss increased in the 2000s, concludes new analysis
(02/25/2015) Loss of tropical forests accelerated roughly 60 percent during the 2000s, argues a paper published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. The findings contradict previous research suggesting that deforestation slowed since the 1990s. The study is based on a map of 1990 forest cover developed last year by Do-Hyung Kim and colleagues from the University of Maryland. The map, which includes 34 countries that contain 80 percent of the world's tropical forests, enabled the researchers to establish a consistent baseline for tracking forest cover change across regions and countries over time.
Partnering for conservation benefits Tacana people, Bolivian park
(02/25/2015) Kneeling in a small clearing amid tropical trees, Baldemar Mazaro skillfully arranges a circle of sticks and a noose of cord in the community of San Miguel de Bala. He hands a branch to a tourist and asks her to prod the sticks as if the branch were the nose of an animal snuffling around, looking for food.
The Amazon's oil boom: concessions cover a Chile-sized bloc of rainforest
(02/04/2015) Hungry for oil revenue, governments and fossil fuel companies are moving even further into one of the world's last great wildernesses, according to a new study in the journal Environmental Research Letters. The total area set aside for oil and gas in the Western Amazon has grown by 150,000 square kilometers since 2008, now totaling more than 730,000 square kilometers—an area the size of Chile.
Environmental wisdom: keeping indigenous stories alive
(01/21/2015) Enchanted lakes and magic hills: how traditional stories support conservation and abundance. 'Long ago, when animals were gente...' Those words, uttered countless times by indigenous Amazonian storytellers, blur the boundary between humans and other creatures in the forests and rivers, revealing a different view of the way human and non-human worlds intertwine.
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.
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.