Tourism suporting conservation



The roads built by the lumber companies and governmental promises of employment in the sugar refinery , a senseless project that is currently being developed which involves burning thousands of hectares of the most biodiverse forests in the world, were the first motivators of migration into the area by colonizers. This is perhaps understandable, as many of these ecisions were made in governmental offices before there was much awareness of the importance of the area.

What is less understandable is that already knowing the importance of the area (governmental authorities had already seen the Rapid Assessment Project study led by renown ornithologist Ted Parker alongside other leading authorities in the field of conservation, which demonstrated that this area was one of the richest in biodiversity) and having already received the proposal of the Madidi National Park, the government cut back on the park and financed (along with other non governmental organizations) and encouraged the migration of colonists from the highlands, providing them with chainsaws and many other facilities, leading to the destruction of this paradise.

Attempts by Eco Bolivia Foundation to orient the colonizers and minimize this destruction were met with resistance from the colonizers who had been instructed by the then director of Madidi National Park to throw Eco Bolivia out of the area. There are governmental plans to extend the roads leading to this area cutting right into Madidi National Park, and on through the Madidi Mosaic to Brasil.

Colonizers tend to come from highland communities and therefore have no preparation for living in the rainforest. Most of them are very fearful of this type of eco system and believe that what they must do is to clear absolutely everything from the area. This way, they think, they will eliminate snakes, jaguar, and all the things they have been taught to fear. Unaware that the value of the area is the biomass and that the soils are very poor, they put in a great deal of effort and labour only to discover that the land stops being productive within just two or three years. Faced with this low production, they move further into the forest, and renew the cycle of destruction.

Colonization began in Bolivia as a form of punishment to union leaders, particularly miners. It has become a way of enrichment in land speculation, and it has also become a way of extending coca plantations and therefore an invitation to the world´s drug mafias. Studies carried out in the process of titling the original inhabitants of these areas demonstrated that many colonizers owned lands in four or five departments. Some of them had more than ten properties. Colonizers mock the original inhabitants of these lands, Amazonian Indians, as “lazy” because they cultivate between one half to two hectares per year. Yet for centuries these people lived with that level of cultivation, demonstrating some of the best conservation practices the world has ever seen. We must defend these practices and learn from them. Serere is a place where you can do this.