Indigenous protest and the roots of sustainable forestry in Bolivia

Michael J. Dockry, Nancy Langston

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


In the mid-2000s, Bolivia emerged as a leader in sustainable tropical forestry, in large part because of Ley 1700, the 1996 forestry law. The 1996 forestry law reformed Bolivian forestry by requiring management plans, inventories, and harvest limits while also guaranteeing the legal right of Indigenous communities to manage their forests for timber. This article analyzes the history of Bolivian forestry reforms, paying particular attention to the involvement of Indigenous lowland communities in influencing the forestry law. Specifically, we analyze the role a 1990 Indigenous protest march called the March for Territory and Dignity had in unifying Indigenous communities, incorporating Indigenous concepts of territory into the national dialogue and legal framework, and influencing the 1996 forestry law. We argue that the Indigenous protest march united Indigenous communities around the common cause of territorial sovereignty. In response to Indigenous protest, the Bolivian government established Indigenous-controlled territories and enacted forestry reforms that incorporated community demands and values.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-77
Number of pages26
JournalEnvironmental History
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
4. Ministerio de Desarrollo Sostenible y Planificacion, Estrategia Nacional de Conservacion y Uso Sostenible de la Biodiversidad (La Paz, Bolivia: Ministerio de Desarrollo Sostenible y Planificacion, 2001); P. L. Ibisch, “Bolivia Is a Megadiversity Country and a Developing Country,” in Biodiversity: A Challenge for Development Research and Policy, ed. Barthlott Wilhelm and Matthias Winiger (Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1998), 213–31; Superintendencia Forestal de Bolivia, Potencial de los bosques naturales de Bolivia para producción forestal permanente (Santa Cruz, Bolivia: Superintendencia Forestal de Bolivia, 1999), 29; Gonzalo Navarro and Mabel Maldonado, Geografía ecológica de Bolivia: Vegetación Y Ambientes Acuáticos (Cochabamba, Bolivia: Centro de Ecología Simón I. Patiño, 2002); W. M. Denevan, “The Aboriginal Cultural Geography of the Llanos De Mojos of Bolivia,” Foreign Field Research Program Report (Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences and National Research Council, 1966); C. L. Erickson, “Archaeological Methods for the Study of Ancient Landscapes of the Llanos de Mojos in the Bolivian Amazon,” in Archaeology in the Lowland American Tropics: Current Analytical Methods and Applications, ed. Peter Stahl (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 66–95; F. E. Mayle et al., “Long-Term Forest– Savannah Dynamics in the Bolivian Amazon: Implications for Conservation,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 362, no. 1478 (2007): 291–307; C. Paz Rivera and F. E. Putz, “Anthropogenic Soils and Tree Distributions in a Lowland Forest in Bolivia,” Biotropica 41, no. 6 (2009): 665–75.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Author(s).


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