LA PAZ, Bolivia (June 27, 2019)-- The Municipal Government of Reyes has created a new protected area in northwestern Bolivia that will serve the needs of local communities while safeguarding rare wildlife such as titi monkeys, river dolphins, wattled curassows and other species, said WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) and Rainforest Trust.
Approved by the Reyes Municipal government on Tuesday, June 25th, the Rhukanrhuka Municipal protected area is 859,451 hectares in size (more than 3,318 square miles), almost as large as Yellowstone National Park in the United States. It is found in a region that includes Madidi, the world´s most biodiverse protected area and where protected areas — including this new area — and indigenous lands conserve almost 8 million hectares of connected wilderness in Bolivia and neighboring Peru.
The new municipal protected area will combine both wildlife conservation and sustainable development. Half of the protected area is categorized as a municipal park and encompasses the most intact areas of tropical rainforest and natural grasslands. The second half of the protected area is classified as a “Natural Area of Integrated Management,” consisting of communal and private properties owned by local villages and cattle ranchers committed to reconciling their economic activities with nature conservation through appropriate zoning and management of the protected area.
The declaration of the protected area is the result of the conservation vision of the Municipal Government, support from a partnership of Rainforest Trust, WCS, and the backing of Harvey and Heidi Bookman.
"Rainforest Trust is incredibly pleased to be partnering with WCS-Bolivia, the Municipal Government and the local communities in the protection of this extraordinarily important and richly biodiverse habitat,” said Mark Gruin, Acting CEO of Rainforest Trust “For us, partnerships like this are fundamental to the establishment of effective, sustainable protected areas.”
The new municipal law will establish a management committee to guide social participation and the management of the Municipal Park and Natural Area of Integral Management Rhukanrhuka. It identifies management objectives such as: the conservation of the area of transition between the Sub Andean and Llanos de Mojos Ecosystems; the conservation of forests and hydro biological resources; the maintenance of ecosystems critical for maintaining connectivity in the Bolivian Amazon; the preservation of cultural and archaeological heritage; the sustainable management of resources; and local and regional development through ecotourism and other opportunities.
Management of the municipal protected area will also safeguard threatened and endemic wildlife species, including two species of endemic and endangered titi monkeys (Ollallae´s and Beni titi monkey), the wattled curassow, and the Bolivian pink river dolphin. Rhukanrhuka is the local Maropa indigenous name for the species of endemic titi monkeys found here.
“We applaud the Municipal Government of Reyes, its communities and private ranchers for taking this huge step towards reconciling local livelihoods, sustainable development and cultural values; with the need to protect this vast wilderness and key species” said Dr. Lilian Painter, Country Director for WCS’s Bolivia Program.
The law creating the new protected area will guide management to reduce threats to the conservation and sustainable development objectives. The WCS Bolivia Country Program will provide technical support to the Municipality to develop the first Management Plan in the coming months.
Rainforest Trust purchases and protects the most threatened tropical forests, saving endangered wildlife through partnerships and community engagement. Through these highly effective partnerships, we can ensure sustainable results necessary for the long-term protection of tropical ecosystems and the wildlife they hold. For more information, visit www.RainforestTrust.org.