The Bolivian government has issued a decree allowing hydrocarbon exploration inside the country's protected areas. They have also given the green light for the construction of a controversial highway across the Isiboro Secure National Park and Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS). As scientists working in South American forests, we are concerned that these political developments override the country's international commitments and undermine the conservation of its unique biological and cultural diversity.
Several national and international groups, including activists and scientists, have voiced their opposition. The conflict has now reached a crucial stage, with President Evo Morales, once known as Bolivia's foremost defender of Pachamama ('Andean Earth Mother'), threatening to expel any non-governmental organization or foundation that attempts to obstruct the exploitation of the country's natural resources.
We call on the country's recently re-elected government to reconsider its environmental policies and to revisit its conservation pledges. We also urge the president to respect and support the legitimate and essential work of Bolivian civil organizations and their international partners in defending Pachamama.