Pilón-Lajas Biosphere Reserve and Communal Lands (Bolivia)

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Pilón-Lajas Biosphere Reserve and Communal Lands (Bolivia)

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The Pilón-Lajas Biosphere Reserve is located on the far eastern spur of the Andes. It comprises mixed mountain and highland ecosystems. The Bolivian government has designated the reserve as a territory and Native Community Land of the indigenous groups living in the Pilón-Lajas region.

Pilón-Lajas Biosphere Reserve

The Pilón-Lajas Biosphere Reserve is located in Bolivia on the far eastern spur of the Andes. The main river that flows in the protected area is the Quiquibey River.

The Biosphere Reserve is located in the departments of La Paz and Beni, in their northern and western parts, respectively, about 350 km (217 mi) northeast of La Paz and 50 km (31 mi) west of San Borja.

The Pilón-Lajas Biosphere Reserve lies mainly within the Bolivian Yungas ecoregion. It comprises mixed mountain and highland systems: low hills and Amazonian plains covered with humid tropical forests, subtropical and tropical forests, forests in ancient alluvial terraces, plus mountain and valley forests.

Some 70 mammal species have been reported, including tapir (Tapirus terrestris), ring-tailed coati (Nasua nasua), spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus), and jaguar (Panthera onca), and 338 species of birds (from the genus Ara, Aratinga, Pyrrhura, Brotegris).

Pilón Lajas was declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1977. The Bolivian government designated it an indigenous territory and biosphere reserve through a decree in 1992.

Communal Lands

The multiethnic Tsimané Moseten Regional Council (Consejo Regional Tsimane Moseten; CRTM) was formed in 1992 and received the title to the reserve as a Native Community Land, or TCO, in 1997.

Native Community Lands (Tierra Comunitaria de Origen), according to Bolivian law, are territories held by indigenous people through the collective title.

Over 160,000 inhabitants live in the Pilón-Lajas region, of which 12,000 are Mosetenes, Tacanas, and Chimane indigenous people groups who live in settlements inside the Biosphere Reserve, near the rivers and in colonization areas.

Mixed populations work in agriculture (rice monoculture), mining, cattle grazing and timber and mostly live in urban centers.

Forest timber and unproductive agricultural systems give poor returns, and the land is often turned into pasture, a process that threatens the sustainable cultures and practices of the indigenous people.

The primary management goals are to guarantee territorial rights to indigenous people and promote their participation in the decision-making processes to implement sustainable practices of natural resources.