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Number of IPAs: 18 (and counting)
In Bolivia, 18 Tropical Important Plant Area (TIPAs) have been identified so far. These are all located within the lowland Chiquitano Dry Forest ecoregion which is the first ecoregion to be assessed. Most of the Chiquitano dry forest lies within the eastern lowlands of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, with smaller patches extending into western Mato Grosso, Brazil.
Bolivia has a wide variety of ecoregions: from the highland plains in the Andes, dry Andean valleys, the llanos on the slopes of the Andes, and extensive lowland subtropical savannas and Amazon rainforest in the eastern part of the country.
This mosaic of habitats supports a wealth of rare and unique animal and plant species and has resulted in Bolivia being one of the world’s megadiverse countries with 15,345 plant species recorded for the country in the first ever census published in 2014. However, there are still vast areas of Bolivia that have never been surveyed for plant biodiversity, where many species new to science are predicted be discovered. The next ecoregion to be assessed is the Interandean Dry Valley ecoregion of Bolivia.
The Chiquitano ecoregion is severely threatened particularly by conversion of its habitats to intensive soybean and cattle farming, road construction, new settlements of highland people, as well as extensive gas and oil exploration.
The Bolivia TIPAs project is a collaboration between Kew and its Bolivian partner at the Natural History Museum (MHNNKM) and the NGO Fundación Amigos de la Naturaleza, both based in Santa Cruz de la Sierra.
More than 1,200 useful wild plant species of the Chiquitano ecoregion have been documented and the main centres of diversity of these useful plants identified. These centres have been found to overlap by over 90% with the network of 18 TIPA sites making it even more important to protect the TIPA sites.
The TIPAs work has involved training courses for Bolivian stakeholders as well as establishing community businesses around sustainable harvest, production and sales of Non-Timber Forest Products such as Copaibo oil, Pesoe oil, and Chiquitano almonds. The book “Threatened Plants of lowland Bolivia” has also been launched in March 2020, which has been adopted by the national Bolivian government as the national standard for threatened lowland plants.
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