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In an unprecedented milestone in the realm of conservation and nature management in Bolivia, a coalition of over 20 leading biodiversity organizations and more than 150 prominent experts in flora and fauna have joined forces in a collaborative effort to reassess, identify, and delineate the Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) in the country. This endeavor supports the protection and conservation of the most threatened and vulnerable flora and fauna globally.

This project brings together institutions ranging from renowned NGOs and universities to leading museums and herbariums in the country, representing a transformative step toward safeguarding Bolivia’s unique and diverse biodiversity. The collaboration among these organizations and experts from various fields, including biology, taxonomy, herpetology, ornithology, botany, and more, underscores the urgent need for coordinated action to preserve the country’s valuable natural resources.

“The beauty of this project is that it has brought together all professionals with a common objective: to assess, identify, and delineate the KBAs, which are sites that significantly contribute to global biodiversity persistence. This work can contribute to the network of protected areas that the country already has, becoming new spaces for biodiversity conservation and management”,  stated Diego Peñaranda, Coordinator of the KBA Program at Asociación Armonía.

If these KBAs are effectively conserved, Bolivia will achieve the main goal of the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) to halt biodiversity loss. This agreement was reached at the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) held in Canada at the end of 2022.

The project aims to update and enhance the understanding of KBAs that play a crucial role in conserving unique species and fragile ecosystems. These identified areas will become new spaces for biodiversity conservation and management, further strengthening the existing network of protected areas in the country.

“Having these KBAs identified will hopefully allow these sites to eventually have biodiversity conservation projects or actions, as well as management. This means that we can continue conducting research in these sites while also working with the communities that inhabit these places to propose projects that enable people to develop their livelihoods, thus achieving effective territorial management”, Peñaranda stated.

This process analyzes recent biodiversity data and identifies challenges that need to be addressed in the coming years. Among these challenges is having a unified biodiversity monitoring database, as well as updating data for many species with records dating back 10 to 20 years. “It’s a monumental task that could be focused on certain relevant places or ecosystems. Thanks to the work of all professionals, this project has managed to consolidate the most up-to-date information available”, said Peñaranda.

At the beginning of this year, Bolivia had 65 of these sites identified across its nine departments. Most of them are located in the more tropical or humid regions: floodplains, cloud forests (Yungas), some inter-Andean valleys, and areas of the Bolivian highlands.

Currently, there are several proposals for new KBA sites, Peñaranda reported. “One of them has defined boundaries on a map,  another three are in progress, but based on conversations with all colleagues working on this, we expect to identify at least 15 new areas”.

The same program is being implemented in three other countries in South America and three countries in the Congo Basin. In Bolivia, the program is led by Armonía, in coordination with Birdlife International, and funded by Bezos Earth Fund

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