Drug trafficking, another threat to bolivian Gran Chaco

The expansion of agricultural activities is threating the conservation of the Gran Chaco in Bolivia, an area rich in biodiversity and hydrocarbons, where drug trafficking has also taken hold in recent years.

The Gran Chaco covers 127,755 km2 of Bolivian territory in the departments of Santa Cruz, Chuquiasca and Tarija. Of that total, 34,411 km2 are protected in the Kaa-Iya National Park and Integrally Managed Natural Area, which is home to about 30 indigenous communities, including the Chiquitanos, Guaraní and Ayoreos.

A lack of security in the area threatens not only the Kaa-Iya, but also the second largest hydrocarbon reserve in Latin America, in the Chaco municipality of Yacuiba, 386.4 kilometers south of the reserve.

In 2007, a laboratory for refining cocaine paste that was operated by Colombian, Paraguayan and Bolivian drug traffickers was found inside Kaa-Iya Park.

The laboratory, which produced 100 kilograms of cocaine a day, represented one of the largest busts in the past 20 years in Bolivia, according to the FELCN.

Environmental crimes in Kaa-Iya

During the first week of September, the Forest and Land Authority (ABT) reported the deforestation of 196 hectares of the Kaa-Iya Park by the community mining company Emcki S.A., which is facing charges for endangering a protected area.

The Kaa-Iya Park is the largest and richest in biodiversity of Bolivia’s 22 nature reserves, which represent 16% of the national territory (170,700 km2).

Illegal coca crops are being grown on 2,154 km2 of these reserves, according to the “Coca Crop Monitoring” report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

In total, Bolivia produces 27,170 hectares of coca, of which 15,170 are illegal.

Source: Jorge Quispe | infosurhoy.com