San Ignacio de Velasco and Concepción municipalities, Bolivia
About the project:
Initiative 20x20 partner Andes Amazon Fund (AAF) has declared two Protected Areas in San Ignacio de Velasco and Concepción, Bolivia, strengthening a critical conservation corridor in eastern Bolivia. The Bajo Paraguá Municipal Protected Area in San Ignacio spans a massive 983,006 ha of Chiquitano and Amazonian forest. To its northwest is the Bajo Paraguá-Concepción Municipal Conservation Area, which protects an additional 154,368 ha of Amazonian, Chiquitano and floodplain forests, along with a variety of aquatic ecosystems.
These areas will secure a biodiverse corridor that spans over 4 million hectares, including the Noel Kempff Mercado National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to the east and Copaibo Municipal Reserve and the Rio Blanco y Negro Wildlife Refuge to the west. These protected areas form an important barrier in the fight against deforestation in the Chiquitano ecosystem, which saw a loss of 10% of its tree cover in less than two decades and has been severely impacted by fires.
The predominant ecosystems of Bajo Paraguá are Chiquitano dry forests, home to rich flora and fauna that mix elements of the Amazon and Chaco ecosystems. At least 256 species of trees have been identified in the region, including the big leaf Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla), the Acai palm (Euterpe oleracea), the Motacú palm (Attalea phalerata), and the guapá (Guadua spp). Close to 1,300 species of vertebrates have been registered there, including the South American tapir (Tapirus terrestris), white-lipped peccary (Tayassu pecari), and the marsh deer (Blastocerus dichotomus). Some of these are rare or highly endangered elsewhere. The area is also vital for jaguar (Panthera onca) reproduction, a strong reason to maintain the ecological integrity of this forest.
While the new Concepción protected area is a wilderness without human settlements, the Bajo Paraguá area in San Ignacio holds significant cultural value as well. It is home to five indigenous communities of 1,170 inhabitants from the Chiquitano and Guarasug’we, forest-based peoples whose territory overlaps with about a quarter of the area. Protecting this ecosystem helps to ensure that they can continue to sustainably use forest resources for generations to come.
These declarations were made possible through a collaboration between the Municipal Governments of San Ignacio de Velasco and Concepción, AAF grantee Fundación Natura Bolivia, the ECCOS Project led by the Foundation for the Conservation of the Chiquitano Forest (FCBC), and the Departmental Government of Santa Cruz.