Bolivia is a beautiful and diverse country that features some of the continent's most widely varied landscapes - from the highest peaks to the most isolated areas in the Latin America region. As a landlocked country, it has land area of 1,098,580 sq km that ranges from rainforest, arid/desert area, and pasture. It is divided by two parallel Andean mountain ranges forming three distinct ecozones, the arid Altiplano plateau, the semitropical Yungas and temperate valleys of Cordillera Oriental , and the eastern lowlands, which include the semiarid Chaco region. The hot dry plains of the Amazon and Plata river basins make up two-thirds of the country. Amazonian forests provide habitat for more than 600 bird species and many other non-avian species declining elsewhere in the world, such as the giant river otter and maned wolf. The montane forest at the southern tip of Bolivia is home to the Andean condor and brown capuchin monkey.
to the Forest
Bolivia is the sixth most forested country in Latin America. However, the country's forests and biodiversity are threatened by land clearing for agricultural purposes and the international demand for tropical timber as well as over hunting and over fishing. Since 1994, dramatic changes in the forestry sector have occurred, including a new forestry law, new regulatory institutions, more transparent community and civil society participation and voluntary certification program based on the Forest Stewardship Council model. The Bolivian government supports broader efforts to conserve forests, however, it lacks the funds to do implement such changes.
Does the US Forest Service Work in Bolivia?
The USDA Forest Service has worked in Bolivia for many years in a cooperative program with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and its partners. For the past few years, sustainable forest management, forest industry efficiency and marketing, and fire assessment and management have been at the forefront of the program. The Forest Service and partners have developed a cooperative program of technical assistance and training with the support of USAID Bolivia mission, BOLFOR II program, Bolivian institutions and non-governmental organizations to help improve certified wood production and link certified Bolivian forests to international export markets. Today Bolivia serves as an example for other countries working in sustainable tropical forestry, with 2 million ha. of forests independently certified as economically, ecologically and socially well managed.
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Sap stains in lumber can lead to a decrease in value and marketing potential of timber species. The Forest Service has been assisting the wood industry in Bolivia by investigating ways in which the sap stains can be reduced or eliminated .
There has been substantial capital investment by the forest industry in Bolivia over the past several years in kilns to dry lumber. Although some drying protocols exist, they are generally inadequate, resulting in the inefficient use of the existing kilns. Drying requirements from international markets and the increasing value of timber both compel the industry to improve drying protocols and systems. Therefore, the Forest Service is collaborating with Virginia Tech and the Amazonic Center for Sustainable Forest Enterprise (CADEFOR) to develop lumber drying protocols. Through a series of workshops, the Forest Service and other U.S. experts are educating managers and decision makers on the proper techniques for efficient lumber drying.
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Fire Management and Research
Fire is a dangerous threat to the Chaco, Cerrado and tropical ecosystems in Bolivia. Often fire is a tool used in Bolivia for agriculture, pasture management and silviculture practices. The Forest Service currently provides technical assistance and support to the Bolivian Forest Research Institute (IBIF) in developing an improved knowledge and decision-making system for fire management in Bolivia. The investment in generating science-based information to support fire management plans and decision making assists communities, concessionaires, government agencies, universities and other natural resource institutions to predict, manage and respond to wildland fires in Bolivia. The Forest Service also supports the development of the Bolivian Forest Research Institute’s science and administrative capacity to engage in wildfire research and technology transfer.
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Road Rural Design and Maintenance
US Forest Service Roads Engineers and Planners provide assistance to foresters, engineers and community members in rural roads design and maintenance. Maintenance of roads is critical in order to prevent deterioration which can lead to inaccessibility and immobility in rural areas. The Forest Service workshops on forest roads are part of the BOLFOR II program on improving management practices. Some of the topics covered in the training courses have included environmental analysis of road projects, basic hydrology, drainage design, erosion control and evaluation of sites for bridges.
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