Bolivia Launches Program to Protect Forests and Alleviate Poverty

A blue and gold macaw in Bolivia — just one of the may species, including humans, that depend on the country’s forests. (© CI/ photo by Haroldo Castro)

Candido Pastor is currently attending the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in Durban, South Africa. Read other COP 17 posts.

In Bolivia, where I live and work, the government of Pando recently created the nation’s first “compensation forest” program called COMSERBO (Compensation for Forest Conservation and Integrated Management of Pando). This program provides financial incentives and technical assistance for indigenous people who voluntarily choose to preserve their forest areas.

The northernmost department in Bolivia, Pando has an area of ​​63,815 square kilometers (24,640 square miles) — a territory larger than Costa Rica. But despite Pando’s dense forests and abundance of natural resources, a high percentage of its 80,000 inhabitants live in poverty.

Earlier this year, in coordination with our partners at The Nature Conservancy, I took Pando Governor Dr. Luis Adolfo Flores Roberts to visit a national program in Ecuador called Socio Bosque. Designed by the Ecuadorian government with technical support from CI-Ecuador, this program provides direct payments per hectare of native forest to landowners who agree to conserve it. By protecting this forest, landowners are not only earning income and safeguarding their access to fresh water, food and other forest resources — they are also helping to mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation. Socio Bosque aims to ultimately benefit more than 1 million people in some of Ecuador’s poorest areas.

The governor of Pando was so impressed by this clear demonstration of the benefits of our forest conservation program to local communities that he decided to implement a similar program and mechanism in Bolivia. Financed by Pando’s regional government as well as international supporters, this is a great example of how these types of partnerships can advance conservation by scaling up pilot projects to higher levels.

In Pando, COMSERBO is intended to prevent the increasing deforestation that has been observed in the region. In November the program’s pilot community received its first round of funding and technical support. In the words of Governor Roberts, “We hope this initiative will help us alleviate poverty by caring for Mother Earth and helping the world combat the climate change phenomenon.”

Candido Pastor is the environmental policy coordinator for CI-Bolivia.


  1. bolivia vacation says

    is very good in Bolivia implementing these conservation actions. Countries like Ecuador are good examples. Sudamerika is a continent with great biodiversity, I think the future of the world is there

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