September 4th National Protected Areas Day in Bolivia

by WWF Bolivia
(Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia)

Photo © Gustavo YBARRA/WWF Bolivia

Photo © Gustavo YBARRA/WWF Bolivia

It has been 11 years since the institutionalization in terms of the functioning of the Sernap (National Service for Protected Areas) in 1998, a decentralized unit of the former Ministry of Sustainable Development responsible for coordinating the functioning of the National Protected Areas System and guaranteeing its integral management. In 2005, the Bolivian Government, with support from WWF, through Supreme Decree Nr. 28315 officially declared September 4th as National Protected Areas Day.

A reason to be proud

Bolivia, one of the 15 most mega-diverse countries on the planet, has a National Protected Areas System with 22 national protected areas covering over 15% of its national territory. In addition, and complementary to the national system, Bolivia also has departmental, municipal and private protected areas.

The Department of Santa Cruz alone has more than 100,000 km2 of national, departmental, municipal and private protected areas, and, with over 30% of its territory under protection, it leads the country’s other eight departments - both in terms of total protected surface area and percentage of the department’s surface area under protection. At the same time, the Department of Santa Cruz is the “bread basket” of Bolivia with important activities such as agriculture, cattle ranching and forestry management, proving that conservation can be compatible with other activities.

The protected areas provide important services to its population:

· Conservation of biological diversity: genes, species and its habitats, both for intrinsic rights and values, as well because current and future generations can obtain benefits (medicines, materials, fibers, etc.)

· Extraction of natural resources such as wood, fiber, food, medicines and others, within the allowed management categories

· Infrastructure protection: Have you thought about what could happen, for example, with roads and bridges that connect the cities of Santa Cruz and Cochabamba, if the Amboro Protected Area and its forests didn’t exist considering they control the Ichilo, Yapacani, Surutu and many other rivers that originate in this area?

· Provision of water: Good examples of this are Carrasco or Amboro Protected Areas and the water supply they offer to many surrounding peasant communities as well as to cities like Cochabamba and Santa Cruz. The underground reservoirs of these cities obtain water produced by Amboro Protected Area

· Climate regulation, including rainfall and temperature

· Production of pollen and shelter for crop pollinating insects

· Recreation and tourism: Areas such as Madidi and Eduardo Avaroa provide – through tourism – the main sources of income for some of the municipalities which overlap with these protected areas

· Additionally, Bolivia has managed to develop a system where numerous management and funding tools have been experimented with, established and consolidated, such as management committees, trust funds, entrance fee systems, sale of environmental services, and many others which have nothing to envy from systems applied in neighboring countries.

Protected areas are public. They belong to all of us, and we need to respect and defend them from short term interests, since our future very much depends on them. Let’s celebrate and enjoy them! Let’s visit and make them a part of our lives! Let’s support our protected areas and September 4th!

Background:

Bolivia’s National Protected Areas System aims at conserving the natural and cultural patrimony of the country, and improving the quality of life of the population linked to protected areas. Protected areas are natural areas, with or without human intervention, declared under protection of the State for sheltering the great natural landscape and cultural richness of the country. The State, represented hereby the Sernap, is responsible for protecting and conserving the flora, fauna, natural ecosystems, hydrographical basins and values considered of scientific, aesthetic, economic, social and cultural interest for Bolivia, and thus contributing to its sustainable development.

WWF Bolivia currently supports the following protected areas:

- In the Bolivian Amazon: Iténez (Beni), Manuripi and Bruno Racua (Pando) and Tiquipaya (Cochabamba)

- In the Bolivian Pantanal: San Matías and Otuquis (Santa Cruz)

In previous years WWF Bolivia has also supported other protected areas, such as Amboró, Carrasco and Noel Kempff Mercado.

About WWF

The objective of WWF Bolivia, the conservation organization, is to contribute to the conservation of the Amazon and the Pantanal, promote and generate sustainable economic opportunities for its inhabitants and Bolivia in general.

WWF works for a living planet, and its mission is to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature by:

* Conserving the world’s biological diversity
* Ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable
* Promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption


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