Two communities have been living in the Reserve for several decades. They both have a democratic election system to elect their community Presidents. Both live from subsistance agriculture and fishing.
The community of Warnes was created in 1957 by farmers who arrived at the Reserve with the willingness to live in a small community. They settled in this environment in order to have access to water – through the lake – and the community was officially created on June 16, 1957. It now has around 420 inhabitants.
The President of the community is elected every two years, but has to work with a Council of community representatives. They meet once a month to see project developments and take decisions.
The community is home to an estimated 420 residents, most of native Tacana decent. The community lives exclusively from the exploitation of natural resources. Cultivation of the land, harvesting of the brazil nut, fishing and breeding is part of their daily life. As for the agriculture, during the wet season the fields are harvested and during the dry season the inhabitants take advantage of the absence of rains to prepare the land.
The community of Warnes has both a primary and a secondary school. They receive 160 children from other communities such as San José and the teachers come from the city of Riberalta.
They have one health post in the community with 2 doctors and 2 nurses.
Warnes is also the community located at the entrance of the Reserve and linking to the other department, Pando. Because of this, they installed a 2Bs toll on the road. Currently each family takes turns working the toll-booth, rotating amongst the 75 families in the community. 50% of the revenue goes to the family; the other 50% goes to support community projects. The community works together to maintain the road and implement communal projects and maintenance.
The community of San José is slightly less developped than Warnes because there is not much traffic as they link directly to the lake and the rainforest. It was founded in 1975 by 15 families who settled near the lake for the exploitation of rubber. Indeed, the company “Casa Suarez” was very present at that time in the region and employed many people. Despite the cessation of the rubber production, the community remained there. Today the community has 27 families, about 150 people.
Like in the community of Warnes the President of the community is elected for 2 years by the heads of families (men and women).
The community of San José represents a 49,421 acre wildlife preserve. There is no running water or electricity in San Jose, which lowers the general health and well-being of its inhabitants. It has a school, which was created in 1982 and currently receives 28 children for primary school and for the secondary, the children have to go to the town of Warnes.
The community largely relies on subsistence farming with some income coming from work found in Riberalta. They cultivate rice, banana and yucca crops.
As for health, the community does not have a dispensary, but a doctor comes from Riberalta every two weeks.
Sustainable Bolivia’s work
- A community-based ecotourism project
- Running water for San José
- A restaurant and tourist information point for Warnes
- Environmental education in the school of Warnes
- Research in the reserve