“Hello family, I’m leaving for Bolivia! “
When I bought my plane ticket to come to Riberalta, I already imagined myself on the spot: a little something in the Amazonian forest’s immensity. A show for all my senses between the mixture of hundreds of shades of green, the smell of the earth, moist, and the sound of the secret life of the many tropical species. When I got to Riberalta, a small urbanized city, I was amazed by the natural diversity. I saw smiles, fabulous animals and great landscapes! But this idyllic image has been somewhat a shock to the reality: many dead trees, recently burned forest plots to turn them into farmland. Massive waste, accumulated at the exit of the city and left abandoned in a cloud of smoke and scavengers. Endangered species served without any problem in local restaurants …
As I come from the countryside, I am used to spending my time outside. I was passionate (as many children) by the biodiversity. The sky, the water, the plants and the animals … I did not think it was possible to see this all at risk one day.
I am not naive, but to observe a devastated space because of human activity is way more intense. However, it is not in Riberalta that the ecological impact is the highest. All houses don’t have electricity, running water, and of course internet. In addition, the most important local industry; the harvesting of the Brazilian nuts, exclusively employs a human workforce (before ending up in our Western supermarkets).
Bolivia gradually opens and becomes a destination attracting more and more the travelers’ interest. Its cultural charm, the authenticity of its villages and the beauty of its biodiversity make Bolivia one of the South American countries where the fauna and flora is more preserved. Opening up to tourism will require major investments and changes, knowing that even the most adventurous tourists seek a minimum of comfort and services.
But, wait a second … if it’s necessary to deforest to welcome tourists who are coming particularly for natural immersion, is not it a bit of a vicious circle?
In short, it’s a big headache. Bolivia will have to find a balance between continuing developing and preserving the treasures it has. After seeing this, we want to act!
I was happy to see that on the ground, different actors take action. Rolling up the sleeves and building up tomorrow’s world is the goal of Sustainable Bolivia. By helping the Aquicuana Natural Reserve, the non-profit has already participated and helped securing more than 20,000 hectares of rainforest. The projects are all the more promising: ecolodges construction, reforestation, implementing permaculture and community gardens, educate and raise awareness on protecting the environment to the local communities … etc.
Some traditional lifestyles seems difficult to relinquish, such as tiger and jaguar hunting, but for us, children are a priority and seem interested in these new ways of thinking.
Ecotourism, the solution?
Sustainable Bolivia‘s activities are all oriented towards this vision of a tourism centered on the discovery of nature, in the respect of the environment and the local cultures. We all share a responsibility. The idea is to do our best, to support future projects.
Thanks to my internship with Sustainable Bolivia, I feel I have transformed the playground of the child that I was in the field of intervention for the adult that I became.
If you feel concerned too, then take your chance and join us, we need your help!