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Ecología en Bolivia

Print version ISSN 1605-2528On-line version ISSN 2075-5023


MULLER, Robert; LARREA-ALCAZAR, Daniel M.; CUELLAR, Saul  and  ESPINOZA, Sara. Proximate causes of recent deforestation (2000-2010) in the Bolivian lowlands and modeling of future scenarios. Ecología en Bolivia [online]. 2014, vol.49, n.1, pp.20-34. ISSN 1605-2528.

We present a detailed study of the dynamics of deforestation in the Bolivian lowlands between 2000 and 2010. In the first analysis, we evaluate the contributions of the three main proximate causes of deforestation: Mechanized agriculture, small-scale agriculture and cattle ranching in replacement of forests. The impact of cattle ranching was strong and incrementing, causing over 50% of deforestation between 2000 and 2010, with a very strong impact in the Chiquitania region. Mechanized agriculture, mainly for soy production, expanded with a lower intensity than in the 1990s, causing some 30% of forest conversion between 2000-2010. The contribution of small-scale agriculture was about 18%. We also evaluated possible future trends of agricultural expansion, applying a multinomial spatial model of logistic regression, based on a series of independent variables representing environmental factors (such as rainfall), socioeconomic factors (such as access to markets) and political factors (such as the presence of protected areas). The results were compared with different classifications that represent the conservation value of the threatened forests, allowing for the identification of possible priority areas for the mitigation of deforestation. Such areas are mainly found in the north of the department of Santa Cruz and at the northern Andean foothills. The results suggest that for the reduction of deforestation, it will be crucial to control the expansion of cattle ranching, for example by an enforcement of existing legislation, but also by applying practices that allow for a more efficient use of pastures.

Keywords : Bolivia; Deforestation; Proximate Causes; Modeling future Scenarios; Conservation Priorities.

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