Gabriela GUTIÉRREZ PÉREZ, PROMETA, Tarija, BOLIVIA
Forest management is the planning and execution of approaches to forestry, its economic, ecological and social characteristics, the result of which assures the sustainability of forest production and its quality.
The present Plan of Communal Forest Management is an open process that promotes dynamic participation to define priorities in the management of natural areas, establishing administrative mechanisms and regulations in the sustainable use of forest resources, contributing to compatible communal development with the preservation of biodiversity.
PROMETA (Protection of the Tarija Environment) is a private, non-profit conservation organization established in 1990. PROMETA's mission is to contribute to the conservation of the environment so as to improve the quality of life of the Bolivian people.
PROMETA's biodiversity conservation strategy consists of five programmes: Protection and Surveillance, Support to Sustainable Production, Research, Environmental Education, and the Capacity Building of Local Organizations.
At present, PROMETA is administrating three protected areas in different regions of Tarija: one in the Andean region at 11 000 ft (3 3536 m) above sea level. Below at 6 000 ft (1 8292 m) are the fertile lands of the inter-Andean valleys and, between 4 000 (1 2195 m) and 1 200 ft (.3658 m), the ecosystem called Andean Yungas, which is characterized by higher humidity and temperatures, and thick vegetation. Finally, at around 1 000 ft (304.8 m) above sea level, the landscape changes yet again to a massive ecosystem called Chaco, the world's largest dry forest.
The largest protected area in Tarija is the Tariquia Flora and Fauna National Reserve, comprising 246 000 ha of mountainous forest.
The elaboration of the communal forest management emphasizes community participation so that the process is really assumed by the community. This gives the Plan of Forest Management a social focus, and the work of PROMETA is to support the technical part of the project.
Description of the area
In the community there are 774 people comprising 412 males and 362 females (INE 1992) in 155 families with an average of 5 members each. This number of inhabitants has increased in the last few years through immigration of families from other areas.
The community of Chiquiaca is part of the jurisdiction of the Municipality of O'Connor. It is in the northeast sector of the Tariquia National Reserve of Flora and Fauna in the buffer zone. The geographical position of the area of the community is 21'44'57.55" – 21'59'9.32" south latitude and 64000'17" – 64014'25.71" west longitude. The total surface of the Chiquiaca community area is 39 000 ha, and there are about 21 000 ha of productive forest.
This physical area is called sub-Andean. Generally the topography is hilly with wide valleys and low slopes along the river that forms the Chiquiaca valley. Then there are steeper slopes defining the different courses of water that flow down from the mountains in the direction of the Chiquiaca River. The altitude varies from 800 m in the valley to 2 500 m in the highest peaks.
Climate and water resources
The climate is a little wet, with rainy summers and persistent showers in the autumn. The annual precipitation is almost 1 042 mm. The driest months are from May to September, and October is the month when precipitations begin. The rainiest months are from December to March, peaking in January.
The annual medium temperature is 20.5°C; with the maximum temperature even 39.2°C in September, 1984, and the minimum -6.9 °C in July, 1978 (PROMETA, 1996). The hottest months are from October to March, with temperatures varying from 20 to 26 °C, and the coldest is June.
The area is inside the Tucumano-Bolivian formation or Andean Yungas, part of the Amazon domain starting in Venezuela and extending southwards to Catamarca in Argentina. It presents a great diversity in latitude and altitude. This formation has different names according to the country or region, for example: forest brow, rain forest, Tucumano-Bolivian forest, Tucumano-Oranense forest and Yungas.
The vegetation is wild and consists of several straturns and numerous epifitas and lianas. The trees, which are 30 m tall, are thick in diameter, of normal thickness to excessive. They are very heterogeneous, mixed forests but in the highest altitudes they change aspect, looking like template forests with only a few species. Unfortunately, however, the influence of man is having a negative impact on the natural wild aspect. Inside the floristic structure of the area of the present study, there are a large number of evergreen species. The following is a list of arboreal species found in the study area (PMF, Chiquiaca, Prometa, 1998).
List of arboreal species
|Common name||Scientific name||Family|
|Guayabo de comer||Eugenia pungens||Mirtaceae|
|Guayabo de mono||Eugenia sp.||Mirtaceae|
|Lanza Blanca||Patagonula americana||Borraginaceae|
|Lapacho Amarillo||Tabebuia lapacho||Bignoniaceae|
|Lapacho morado||Tabebuia ipe||Bignoniaceae|
|Laurel del Cerro||Phoebe porphyria||Lauraceae|
|Laurel Blanco||Ocotea puberula||Lauraceae|
|Lecher6n Monteho||Sebastiana brasilensis||Euphorbiaceae|
|Palo Zapallo||Pisonia zapallo||Nictaginaceae|
|Pino, de cerro||Podocarpus parlatorei||Podocarpaceae,|
|Quina Blanca||Lonchocarpus lilloy||Leguminosa|
|Quina Colorada||Miroxylon peruiferum||Legurninosa|
|Tipa Blanca||Tipuana tipu||Papilionoideae|
There are also some species that we have not identified yet, such as:
The forest of the community of Chiquiaca is rich in wild fauna, although at the present time it is being diminished considerably because of agricultural production, cattle grazing, forestry activity and hunting. There are still, however, many different types of birds, including Paloma montefia, parrots (Aratinga mitranta, Plows auricularis), pava of the mount (dark Penelope), chulupias (Turdus ruifiblentris), terotero (Vanelus chilensis), goldfinch (Sonofrichia capensis), Tucan (Ramphastus plays), Chaja (Chauna torcuata), Bird carpenter (Campephylus leucopodum), and hurraca (Cianocorax cianomelas).
Wild animals include monkeys (Cebus appeals), squirrels (Sciurus granatensis), wild mountain pig (Tayassu tajacu), deer (Mazama sp.), acuti (Dasyprocta pungtata), fox (Dusicyon thous), quirquincho (Dasypus novemcinctus), lion (Felis concolor), hare (Sivilagus brasiliensis), wolf (Prosium cancriburum) and a very few anta (Tapirus terrestris). This latter species is in danger of extinction, along with the tiger (Panthera onca).
Use of the earth
Much land in the area is dedicated to agricultural production, and farmers cultivate corn, citric and some peanuts. There is also traditional cattle farming. The most important domestic animals are horses, pigs and corral birds.
Forest exploitation is selective. In recent years there has been new exploitation of the cedar species, Cedrela fissilis.
Areas of the community of Chiquiaca
Types of land in the community are as follows:
|Production forest||21 900|
|Agricultural area||8 611|
|Protection forest above 45% slope||8 945|
The forest should be considered as an integral system whose components are interactive and interdependent, an internal imbalance causes deterioration to the whole system.
In 1986 the community was integrated with the opening of a road built by CODETAR from the crossing of Saline to Chiquiaca, but with this the illegal exploitation of wood commenced.
In 1991 the community started work for the conservation of natural resources through the prohibition of the extraction of forest resources, but the most important step in the history of Chiquiaca was the establishment of the Don Victor wood enterprise in 1993. The battle began when the people, organized in a civic committee called the Committee for the Defence of the Natural Resources, as well as the Centre for Mothers, blocked the main road to stop the chainsaw workers from entering. After this, in August 1995, the people decided in a communal meeting to have a forest management plan.
Communal Forest Management (FMP)
Until 1996 forest management was limited to wood enterprises, but after the approval of the new Forest Law the community's rights were recognized so that the rural and indigenous people could use the forest and all natural resources. Under Bolivian Forest Law, there are special political bodies called Local Social Associations (ASL) and Original Community Territories (TCO) to back this community so that they can use up to 20 percent of the total forest land in State forests.
First of all, we need to understand how rural people use the forest, what is the relationship between people and trees and what people want from the forest. The first step for communal forest management is to understand how rural people can use and have access to the forest; it is essential to understand how they perceive the forest. PROMETA worked for a considerable time researching traditional ways to use and have access to the forest of Chiquiaca, enabling us, therefore, to understand how forest space is used, what people need from the forest and its composition.
This research included much communal participation in workshops and was the base for the second research for the communal forest plan. This provided social rules on how we can encourage forestry work with rural people. The communal forest management plan consists of two components: agriculture and forestry. The first one supports the production of corn and citric; the second one supports the use of forest resources.
To create the FMP, people were organized into a forestry organization, Virgen de Los Angeles, and they were constituted in an ASL, working on statutes and rules as a basis for good relations between its members. The organization has 26 families as members working on 4 500 ha of mountainous forest.
The main problem is that this forest is on slopes of over 45 percent, and the opening of roads into the forest would cause serious damage to the soil. We are, therefore, looking for new technologies to help the work of the community.
The Bolivian Forest Law certainly allows community forest management, which is an important advance, but it forbids forest management on slopes with gradients of more than 45 percent and most of the forest are on slopes of over 45 percent.
The sustainability of the forest also depends on the people who live in the forest and are directly involved in its conservation and proper management. It is important to translate technical terms into the local language in order to help people understand. Our work as forest managers must be to make technical and social criteria compatible with forest management that is sustainable in time.