Guardians of the Forests: How Should an Indigenous Community in Eastern Bolivia Defend Their Land and Forests under Increasing Political and Economic Pressures?
Yifan He, Juan Pablo Baldiviezo, Arun Agrawal, Vicente Candaguira, Ivette Perfecto
Case Studies in the Environment, 3, 1-14
December 31, 2019
Many indigenous communities across Latin America depend on forests for livelihood. In eastern Bolivia, indigenous communities face increasing challenges in forest management due to insecure land tenure, lack of capacity, and state policies that favor extractivism and export-oriented agriculture. This case study examines the dilemma of forest management in the Guarayos Indigenous Territory, with a particular focus on the influence of conflictive policies under Evo Morales administration. Using a combination of literature reviews, semi-structured interviews, and land use/land cover analysis, we investigated the drivers behind the challenges that the Guarayos indigenous community is facing in the forest and land governance and explore potential solutions. We found that deforestation within the Guarayos Indigenous Territory from 2000 to 2017 was primarily driven by agricultural commodity production. Despite its promises on protecting nature and the indigenous peoples, the government weakened the Guarayos indigenous people’s governance capacity through failure of forest law enforcement, prioritization of extractivism and export-oriented agriculture, and support for land titling of external entities. We presented these findings through a case narrative featuring the president of Guarayos indigenous government as the decision-maker. This case study provides an illustrative example of the challenges and management strategies in indigenous land and forest governance in the Latin American context. A Spanish version of this case study is available at https://www.learngala.com/cases/bolivia-forests-esp.
He, Y., Baldiviezo, J. P., Agrawal, A., Candaguira, V., & Perfecto, I. (2019). Guardians of the Forests: How Should an Indigenous Community in Eastern Bolivia Defend Their Land and Forests under Increasing Political and Economic Pressures? Case Studies in the Environment, 3(1), 1–14. doi:10.1525/cse.2019.sc.946307