Dialogue for biodiversity
The deforestation rate inside Bolivia’s protected areas is significantly lower than outside. There are two central reasons for this: one, monitoring by rangers for SERNAP (Servicio Nacional de Áreas Protegidas), the authority responsible for protected areas; and two, the assumption that indigenous communities who live in protected areas will protect biodiversity and the natural environment in general.
The work and engagement of civil society also play an important role. The Fundación Acción Cultural Loyola (ACLO) is one of the non-governmental organisations that promote environmentally friendly activities in the protected areas of the Chuquisaca Department. The partner organisation of the German World Peace Service (Weltfriedensdienst – WFD) has its headquarters in Sucre, the capital of the department and of the entire country.
Activities such as organic farming, beekeeping, fish farming and gardening receive support. ACLO also provides information on and raises awareness for environmental issues, along with addressing conflicts of interest. The goal is to use and conserve natural resources sustainably.
In this context, the project “Culture of peace and dialogue to promote the good life in southern Bolivia”, which receives support from the WFD as part of its Civil Peace Service (Ziviler Friedensdienst – ZFD) programme, has, among other things, initiated a multi-actor dialogue. The first meeting took place in October 2022 and the second in May 2023. These meetings brought together for the first time all those involved in the administration and management of protected areas. The next meeting is scheduled for March 2024 .
Ultimately, the project should produce a shared agenda for dealing with the protected areas. What’s more, both residents as well as decisionmakers should be encouraged to protect biodiversity in these areas because biodiversity in Bolivia is facing numerous threats.
The project is a component of a larger plan to bring about constructive conflict transformation in Bolivia, which is receiving support from the ZFD. The aim is to initiate processes for peace and justice. With regard to protected areas, all parties should actively contribute to conserving biodiversity.
Zulma Martínez Vargas of the Fundación Acción Cultural Loyola coordinates the project “Culture of peace and dialogue to promote the good life in southern Bolivia”. The project receives support from the World Peace Service (Weltfriedensdienst – WFD) as part of its Civil Peace Service programme (Ziviler Friedensdienst – ZFD).
Katja Dombrowski, a former editor of E+Z/D+C, is currently a media specialist for the WFD in southern Bolivia.