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Total Historical Land-Use Change in Eastern Bolivia: Who, Where, When, and How Much?

Timothy J Killeen, Conservation International
Anna Guerra, Museo Noel Kempff Mercado
Miki Calzada, Museo Noel Kempff Mercado
Lisette Correa, Museo Noel Kempff Mercado
Veronica Calderon, Museo Noel Kempff Mercado
Liliana Soria, Museo Noel Kempff Mercado
Belem Quezada, Museo Noel Kempff Mercado
Marc K Steininger, Conservation International


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We documented the history of land-use change and migration in eastern Bolivia in five temporal periods: pre-1976, 1976–1986, 1986–1991, 1991–2001, and 2001–2004. We included all land-cover types located below the natural montane tree line (~3000 m), including forest, savanna, scrubland, seasonal wetland, second-growth forest, pasture, and cropland. The rate of land-use change has increased from approximately 4.7 × 104 ha/yr in the 1960s to > 2.9 × 105 ha/yr in the most recent period. Land-use change was quantified for 10 groups within which cultural traditions and production systems are shared, including three nonmechanized indigenous groups, four mechanized farming groups, two cattle ranching groups, and the forest products sector. Mechanized Cruceño farmers and Andean indigenous colonists were responsible for most land-use change in the 1960s and 1970s; deforestation by the latter group increased to twice that by all other groups during 1986–1991, declined in the 1990s, and then increased again in the most recent period. In the last 15 years, land-use change by agro-industrialists specializing in soybean has become important, and cattle ranching based on cultivated pastures has surpassed land use by all other groups. When the rates of change increased for the three indigenous nonmechanized groups, they tended to decrease for the four nonindigenous mechanized groups, and vice versa.

Key words

deforestation; drivers; land-cover change; markets; migration; social sectors; tropics

Copyright © 2008 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087