WLBC Bolivia

Although Bolivia comprises only 0.2% of the global land area, it is one of the most important biodiversity hotspots. Estimates indicate that Bolivia is one of the world's eight richest countries in biodiversity. With an altitudinal gradient ranging from 90 to 6,542 meters the Bolivian territory includes 4 biomes, 32 eco-regions and 199 distinct ecosystems. Although large areas of Bolivia are still intact, the management and sustainable use of natural resource, becomes increasingly important as the population grows and tries to achieve economic development.

Bolivia has also a rich diversity of indigenous and local cultures, with about 34-40 ethnic groups belonging to eleven language groups. All these diverse ethnicities are holders of a large amount of traditional knowledge of great value to the development of different regions. Many communities have  a key role in protecting the biological diversity of the country, with more than 1.5 million living in or near protected areas. However, there are few detailed studies on the use of plants and resources by indigenous groups, their knowledge of traditional resource and forest management are still often ignored, and much knowledge might already have been lost.

It is important that conservation measures to protect the rich biodiversity of the country the relationship with, and the importance of natural resources to local communities into account. Conservation processes are often ineffective if traditional knowledge, which is preserved and practiced for generations allowing communities to make sustainable use of their resources, is simply ignored.

WLBC’s work in Bolivia includes a broad range of topics: The knowledge of local communities about the use of palms, as well as the broader ethnobotanical knowledge of communities both in the Andes and the Amazon are documented, and the insights gained, together with results of previous studies, are repatriated to the original knowledge holders. Cooperative studies address the influence on climate change, and investigate the economy of medicinal plant markets in the country. Last, The WLBC Sacred Seeds program helps communities to maintain traditionally important plants in-situ.

The Chacobo of Beni

Traditional knowledge in a changing world

Learn about the program