Triple the size of Grand Canyon National Park, the recently created Municipal Conservation Area of Bajo Madidi protects 3,794,291 acres (1,535,495 ha) of pristine savannas, wetlands, and rainforest in northwestern Bolivia. This area contributes to a bi-national protected area network spanning 7.14 million acres (2.89 million ha) that includes Madidi National Park in Bolivia and Tambopata National Reserve in Peru. As the largest municipal conservation area in the country and perhaps even the world, the declaration of Bajo Madidi is a conservation milestone for Bolivia.
“The creation of Bajo Madidi is a conservation accomplishment of global significance. This area holds some of the most ecologically intact savanna landscapes in the world. The residents of Ixiamas depend of this region for clean water, fish, and sustainable livelihood opportunities,” said Dr. Adrian Forsyth, Executive Director of Andes Amazon Fund (AAF).
Located in the municipality of Ixiamas, Bajo Madidi provides a critical refuge for wildlife such as the maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus), Orinoco goose (Neochen jubata), and marsh deer (Blastocerus dichotomus). These species– along with the many others found within the area–depend on the preservation of large landscapes for their survival. While grassland and wetland ecosystems across South America have suffered from unsustainable development, the ones found within Bajo Madidi are intact due to the remoteness of the area.
The area’s creation will also ensure the protection of the six rivers that flow through Bajo Madidi, which are important for the migration of fish, birds, and other animals. While very few people live within the municipal conservation area, these rivers are vital for the food security of nearby communities.
“Bajo Madidi can serve as a model for municipal led conservation efforts in Bolivia and beyond,” said Megan MacDowell, AAF Project Director.
The protection of Bajo Madidi was an initiative led by the Municipal Government of Ixiamas with the consultation of more than 800 local stakeholders and the support of Conservation International-Bolivia and Asociación Boliviana para la Investigación y Conservación de Ecosistemas Andino Amazónicos (ACEAA). AAF provided financial support for the creation of the area in partnership with the Wyss Campaign for Nature. We congratulate the Government of Ixiamas and all of the local actors who made this conservation achievement possible.
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