The tension between the Bolivia’s government and the country’s environmental community has reached a worrying point, with President Evo Morales threatening to expel any opposing voices to natural resource exploitation in the country. A correspondence now published in Nature highlights the pivotal work of Bolivian civil organisations in protecting the nation’s exceptional biological and cultural diversity and urges the international scientific community to keep a vigilant eye on shifts towards weaker environmental policies in the country.
The Bolivian government has recently announced the opening of the country’s protected areas to hydrocarbon exploration and plans to construct a deeply-contested highway crossing the TIPNIS National Park, in Bolivian Amazonia. These two announcements are some of the latest along a line of incidences revealing the Bolivian government’s faltering record of policies neglecting its international environmental commitments.
Bolivia’s environmental community is no stranger to clashes with politicians surrounding land management and resource extraction, and several national and international groups, including both activists and scientists, have been voicing their opposition to these government trajectories. The scuffle has now reached a critical stage, with the recently re-elected president Evo Morales, once known as Bolivia’s foremost defender of Pachamama (‘Andean Earth Mother’), threatening to expel any NGO or foundation that attempts to obstruct natural resource exploitation in the country.
These recent developments unveil gloomy prospects for the conservation of Bolivia’s unique biocultural diversity and the international environmental and scientific community is encouraged to aid in the struggle for the conservation of the country’s exceptional biological and cultural diversity.
Fernández-Llamazares, Á., & Rocha, R. (2015) Bolivia set to violate its protected areas. Nature 523: 158. doi: 10.1038/523158c