Bolivia’s protected areas cover around 15% of the entire country. The protected area includes the national parks, natural areas, and the national reserves. These areas cover a wide range of ecosystem and terrains including tropical forests of the Amazon and the high altitude Andean desert. These protected areas range in size from 164 to 34,000 square kilometers. The national parks have an outstanding scenic attraction and natural beauty but their primary objective is to protect flora and fauna. The parks and reserves are managed by the Servicio National de Area Protegidas. Some of Bolivia’s National Parks are looked at below.
The Mountains of Aguarague, commonly referred to as Serrania del Aguarague, is in Gran Chaco Province in southern Bolivia. The mountain bulges into Chico plains and enjoys a wide range of biodiversity leading to its declaration as Aguarague National Park and Integrated Management Natural Area in 2000. The 177 square mile area encompasses mountainous ranges on the South of the department of Tarija with mountains higher than 3,000 meters. Some of the common plant species common in this park include the cedar, lapacho, white chick, white stick, and club drunk while the fauna includes the anteater, tiger, and small cats. Despite Aguarague being a protected area, it faces threats from oil and gas activities and burning.
Amboró National Park is located in central Bolivia. It is a jungle paradise perfect for retreats and picnics. The nature reserve is home to over 900 species of birds, 175 species of mammals, and a rich species of flora. It covers an area of 1,709 square miles and is protected from human activities such as cultivation, logging, mining, and settlement. The Amboró National Park has peculiar geographical features which determine its biological makeup. The altitude ranges from 3,000 to 3338 meters with an annual rainfall of between 1,400 and 4,000 millimeters. The park was created as a reserve in 1973 before it was converted to a national park in 1984. Despite the government’s effort to protect and preserve Amboró National Park, activities such as logging and hunting are still carried out illegally in the park.
Carrasco National Park is located in the Cochabamba Department. It covers a total area of 2,404 square miles and forms a habitat for over 5,000 plant species. The plants and vegetation in the park protect and host several species of animals. Carrasco is the most biologically diverse area in Bolivia. It has a mountainous landscape with several rivers, waterfalls, and deep canyons. Carrasco National Park forms part of the Bolivia Yungas ecoregion, and it is a protected area under the management of the Bolivian government.
Isiboro Sécure is a protected area in Bolivia and a designated Native Community land located between the Cochabamba Department and the Beni Department Department. It was established as a national park in 1965 through a Supreme Decree 7401. It is part of the Mamore River drainage with River Sécure as one of its main tributaries. Isiboro Sécure is also home to some indigenous groups of people living in 64 communities. The park is also a habitat for 218 mammal species, 990 birds’ species, and 131 reptile species. However, the area has experienced heavy deforestation and effects of cultivation with 10% of the park destroyed.
Threats to Bolivia's National Parks
Despite the presence of protected areas, and the government’s ongoing efforts to secure these areas, people looking to cash in on economic opportunities remain a threat to the national parks. The guards also do not have adequate resources to properly secure the parks from hunting, loggers, and the mining groups. The widespread opposition to the National Park System by some Bolivians also threatens the conservation efforts by the government and the environmental agencies.