NEWS: Bolivia’s Largest Ever Municipal Protected Area Established, Permanently Protecting Nearly 4 Million Acres of the Amazon
The largest municipal protected area in Bolivia – the Bajo Madidi Municipal Conservation Area – has been officially established, permanently protecting almost 4 million acres of land and water. The new protected area, located in northwestern Bolivia’s Ixiamas municipality, includes protections for over 1 million acres of well-preserved savannas, in addition to 2.6 million acres of Amazon rainforest.
When the Wyss Campaign for Nature launched last October, our goal was to accelerate the pace and scale of nature conservation – with an eye towards helping protect at least 30 percent of the planet within the next decade – by supporting local efforts to protect wildlife and wild places.
The newly established Bajo Madidi Municipal Protected Area is, in many ways, a model for how the work is getting done.
The Effort was Driven from the Ground Up
The protections are the result of a rigorous consultation with local communities and over 800 stakeholders in partnership with the Ixiamas municipal government, Conservation International Bolivia, ACEAA Conservación Amazónica, and the Andes Amazon Fund.
The Bajo Madidi Municipal Protected Area is a Unique Natural Area
While many of South America’s savannas have been heavily degraded by cattle ranching and road building, the savannas within the Bajo Madidi Municipal Protected Areas are a rare exception. Thanks to the area’s relative isolation and its intactness, conservation scientists anticipate that the Bajo Madidi Municipal Protected Area will provide refuge to wildlife, including endangered species like the maned wolf and marsh deer. What’s more, the area’s newly protected rivers and wetlands will provide important habitat for migratory fish and bird populations, such as the threatened Orinoco goose.
New Protections Link with a Larger System of Protected Areas
The Bajo Madidi Municipal Protected Area is a vast natural area – nearly twice the size of Yellowstone National Park. Importantly, the new protected area is now part of the fabric of a much larger system of protected areas, linking together a nearly 22 million acre landscape of national parks, municipal protected areas, and Indigenous lands.
The Bajo Madidi Municipal Protected Area Supports Traditional Uses and Bolsters the Local Economy
In addition to drawing tourists attracted to northwestern Bolivia’s raw beauty, the Bajo Madidi Municipal Protected Area preserves traditional economic practices, including the sustainable harvest of fruits, nuts, and herbs. Additionally, the Bajo Madidi Municipal Protected Area will help to defend against polluting practices – namely industrial timber and ranching operations – from intruding into critical watersheds.
As we join the Ixiamas municipal government and local organizations in celebrating Bolivia's newest protected area, the Wyss Campaign for Nature continues working in partnership with local communities in Africa, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America to safeguard the planet. As Hansjörg Wyss – the founder and chairman of the Wyss Foundation and the Wyss Campaign for Nature – has said:
“Earth’s wild places cannot be saved by the hands of a few. The fate of our natural world depends on our collective ability to conserve our planet and share its bounties with one another.”