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Macalester College

Publication Date

Fall 2013

Program Name

Bolivia: Multiculturalism, Globalization, and Social Change


This research paper examines the phenomenon of the recent trend of deforestation in the Pando department in northwestern Bolivia. Historically, the economy of Pando has always been based primarily in agro-forestal extraction activities that provided income to communities without the need to destroy the surrounding forests. The most important of these agro-forestal products have been rubber (primarily during the beginning of the 20th century) and more recently Castaña (Brazilian Nut). Recently however, as the result of various forces, the inhabitants of Pando have begun to cut down there forests at an alarming rate. The most relevant causes of this phenomenon have been population changes, the steady growth of cattle ranching in the region, agricultural expansion and unsustainable farming practices, and large investments in infrastructural projects completed in the name of “progress” and “development.” Pando is an important region to study because what is happening there is emblematic of a conflict that is raging at the heart of the climate change debate: the intense and difficult disconnection between typical ideas of “progress” and the destruction of the environment for short-term benefits. Right now, as a result of efforts to develop the department, Pando is approaching an environmental disaster and in this paper, I attempt to analyze what exactly is happening and why.


Forest Management | Growth and Development | Natural Resources and Conservation | Natural Resources Management and Policy | Sustainability


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