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A study by an international group of scientists published in the journal CurrentBiology denounces the “alarming” deforestation rates that part of the Bolivian Amazon rainforest has suffered since 2000.
The report focuses on theIndigenous Territory and Isiboro-Secure National Park (Tipnis), an iconic area of theBolivian Amazon which lost more than 46,000 hectares of forest between 2000 and 2014.
A recent law will increase deforestation
Additionally, the researchers concluded that a controversial law passed by the Bolivian Senate in August 2017 will increase deforestation in that region by paving the way for the construction of a new highway.
The Bolivian Senate, controlled by the president's party, Evo Morales, then approved a law that annuls the status of "intangible"Tipnis national park and it will allow the construction of a highway of more than 300 kilometers in the middle of that reserve.
"We were surprised to discover that one of the most iconic national parks in Bolivia could cope with such alarming levels of deforestation," said Mónica Moraes, a researcher at the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés in La Paz (Bolivia).
The scientist indicated that this situation "is simply incredible, considering that the park is not only one of the main biodiversity hotspots in Bolivia, but also one of the most biodiverse regions on Earth."
Coca cultivation and exploitation of oil and gas
Tipnis, which is also the ancestral home of four indigenous groups, is home to many plant species that live nowhere else and iconic species of wildlife, such as the jaguar, the swamp deer, and the giant otter.
Although food security is often seen as a justification for road construction in that area, the researchers determined that most of the deforestation to date in the Tipnis is associated with coca cultivation.
With coca cultivation expanded and new incentives for oil and gas exploration throughout Bolivia, they predicted that the decrease in legal protection will likely lead to further losses of biodiversity.
This study was carried out by researchers from theHelsinki University (Finland) and from the BolivianUniversity of San Andres.