Environmental Issues in Bolivia

Report prepared by Krystal Brennan and Jen Sarchuk, students in BCIT’s Fish, Wildlife and Recreation Program

Bolivia is dealing with five major environmental issues: deforestation, soil erosion, desertification, decrease in biodiversity, and industrial pollution of drinking water. The UN has begun delivering improved drinking water for the past two decades, though ninety-five percent of urban people have access to it compared to only fifty-six percent of rural communities.

The Bolivian government has signed the international treaties dealing with:

  • Biodiversity
  • Climate Change
  • Desertification
  • Endangered Species
  • Hazardous wastes
  • Laws of the Sea
  • Marine dumping
  • Ship Pollution
  • Tropical Timber 83
  • Tropical Timber 94
  • Wetlands
  • Environmental Modification
  • Marine Life Conservation
  • Ozone Layer Protection

One current project, the Bolivia-Brazil Gas Pipeline, is currently under construction and poses many environmental threats. It will connect the Santa Cruz gas fields in Bolivia to Porto Alegre gas fields in Brazil, stretching 3, 000 km. The pipeline will go through many sensitive ecosystems including Chaco, Pantanal wetlands, and some threatened forests in Brazil. The construction of this pipeline will require extensive logging and will create access roads, and environmental waste in these fragile ecosystems. The construction has ruined the water quality in nearby small towns, thereby decreasing the local food supply. The influx of workers in these poor communities makes matters worse. There are many environmental laws in Bolivia to mediate these issues, however, they are not being enforced.

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