Bolivian forests ’97

Elizabeth McDonald

Working with a Bolivian forestry project, Proyecto Bolfor, the ultimate aim of the project is to contribute to the reduction of the degradation of biological resources, namely tropical dry and subhumid forest, through the use of sustainable forest management plans. The team intended to work at three "seasonally dry tropical forest" study sites and focus their work on three genera of trees Spondius, Ficus and Hymenaea. These trees produce fleshy fruits and are central to the diets of many endangered animals e.g. Goeldi's Marmoset , Giant anteaters, Giant Armadillo, Wattled Curassow and Southern Helmeted Curassow. Information on the status of the trees would be gathered through systematic surveys of the sites and informal meetings with forest managers, harvesting staff and local people will determine the perceived importance of the species as well as raise awareness of their conservation value. However, on arrival in Santa Cruz they were informed that the project as planned was unworkable. This was due to the recent change in government where the present party in power were unwilling to commit themselves to the environmental work and, more specifically, the sustainable forestry management plans that their predecessors had so readily adopted. This resulted in unease among the commissioners who were unwilling to allow researchers into the forests that the team intended to do their research in. Never the less, with BOLFOR they devised projects that could be done in the Chiquitano dry forest of eastern lowland Bolivia in the Lomerio area between the southern rim of the Amazon Basin and the thorn-scrub formations of the Gren Caco. The studies focussed on surveying the density of standing dead trees and course woody debris as important key habitats in the area.