Protecting 1.5 million hectares of watersheds in Bolivia
About the project:
Triple the size of Grand Canyon National Park, the recently created Municipal Conservation Area of Bajo Madidi protects 1,535,495 hectares of pristine savannas, wetlands, and rainforest in northwestern Bolivia. This area contributes to a bi-national protected area network spanning 2.89 million ha that includes Madidi National Park in Bolivia and Tambopata National Reserve in Peru. As the largest municipal conservation area in the country, the declaration of Bajo Madidi is a conservation milestone for Bolivia. About 40 percent of the area is intact tropical forest, and another 30 percent is among the most pristine savanna in the Amazon.
Located in the municipality of Ixiamas, Bajo Madidi provides a critical refuge for wildlife such as the maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus), Orinoco goose (Neochen jubata), and marsh deer (Blastocerus dichotomus). These species – along with the many others found within the area – depend on the preservation of large, healthy landscapes for their survival. While grassland and wetland ecosystems across South America have suffered from unsustainable development, those found within Bajo Madidi are intact thanks to the area's remoteness.
In addition to drawing tourists attracted to northwestern Bolivia’s raw beauty, the creation of Bajo Madidi will preserve traditional economic practices, including the sustainable harvest of fruits, nuts, and herbs, most notably 10 percent of the world’s brazil nut trees under production.
The area’s creation will also ensure the protection of the six rivers that flow through Bajo Madidi, which are important for the migration of fish, birds, and other animals. While very few people live within the municipal conservation area, these rivers are vital for the food security of nearby communities. The area will be closed off to industrial timber and ranching operations, protecting these important watersheds.
The protection of Bajo Madidi was an initiative led by the Municipal Government of Ixiamas with the consultation of more than 800 local stakeholders and the support of Conservation International-Bolivia and Asociación Boliviana para la Investigación y Conservación de Ecosistemas Andino Amazónicos (ACEAA). Initiative 20x20 financial partner Andes Amazon Fund provided financial support for the creation of the area in partnership with the Wyss Campaign for Nature.