Issue - February 2008



February 2008
Editorial

In this special edition, we want to offer you a closer look at Carnival by Walter Sanchez, Luis Fernando Terrazas describes the architectural style of Laguna Carmen, Emma Luna gives her experienced knowledge on The Tropics of Cochabamba and Amy Stillman tells about cochabanner beginnings.read more...

February 2008

The Tropics of Cochabamba

Biologist Emma Luna-Pizarro Q. describes Chapare and it’s ecological characteristics.

Emma Luna-Pizarro Q.

When we think of the tropics of Cochabamba, we immediately relate it to the Chapare region because it is the most popular, when in reality there are 3 provinces that make up the tropics; Chapare, Carracso and Tiraque. The South American Amazon begins in Chapare and extends all the way to the Cordillaera Oriental (West Andes). Another town commonly associated with the tropics is Villa Tunari, famous for its ecotourism and warm climates, averaging 24ºC (75 ºF). The annual rainfall average is of 2.000 mm of rain in the lower regions of the tropics and 5.000 mm in the higher regions.

Traveling from Cochabamba to Villa Tunari and continuing on, one can appreciate the variations in altitude throughout the tropics, ranging from as low as 200 to 4.500 m.a.s.l., that also demonstrate special ecological characteristics. In the higher regions, such as Puna, there is similar vegetation to that of the Altiplano, whereas in the lower areas of the Yungas the climate is more tropical.

The characteristics of topography, hydraulic systems and soils limit the use for farming due to low fertility and acidity of the soils. But it offers an incomparable ecological richness for adventure and ecotourism.

Likewise, there is great potential for scientific research of the flora and fauna in the area, that in many cases have not been performed. Micro mammals, amphibians and reptiles, as well as sweet river water dolphins (Inia geoffrensis) and various primate species.

The ecological variety also allows for a high biodiversity of flora and fauna in many endemic cases, creating this area into a habitat and refuge for larger animals such as the mountain deer or taruca (Hippocamelus antisensis) and the Andean Bear (Tremarctus ornatos). Inasmuch as representative flora, there are many existing species of wood such as mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla), cedar (Cedrela sp) and alder (Agnus acuminate), accompanied by ferns (Cyathea sp) and bamboo (Chasquea sp) as well as a variety of orchids, moss and lichen.

Throughout the tropics of Cochabamba, the richness of vegetation has not been exactly quantified, but it is estimated that there are approximately 8,000 species of native plants, as well as a great diversity of wild animals. Preliminary evaluations of fauna have identified 110 mammal species, 560 birds, 50 reptiles and 22 amphibious species. It is also estimated to have approximately 25 endemic species of fauna registered in Cochabamba. (Plan de Trópico, 1998)

Moreover, there are legal establishments that manage tropical forestry for its protection and proper management of wood.

This article was written to inform more about the diverse areas and different tropical forests that exist in Cochabamba, and the richness and possibilities they can reach through ecotourism, maintaining a view on the problems they face due to the exploitation of wood. Also to highlight the importance of indigenous groups that have lived in these areas for hundreds of years and continue to depend on them. I also hope that this article and the descriptions are of some use to those who are one day planning to travel to this amazing area...you will defintely find more that just tropical forests.

Here we name the categories of forest which make up the tropics of Cochabamba

Yuquí and Yuracaré Community Lands
These are low lands, mainly primary forest with a high potential for permanent reforestation. This area has presented some deforestation limited to the riversides and it is considered one of the more important wildlife habitats and great potential for eco-tourism.



Multiple Use Forest (R.M. 066/92)

These are primary tropical forests with both virgin and highly exploited areas as well as extensive areas of secondary forests and fallow land. These forests are still the main area for the extraction of wood for businesses and of great importance for the provision of potable water to the nearby local communities and for protection against temporary flooding. These areas are being colonized and used for farming although these are only minor plantations.

Multi-ethnic Indigenous Territorios of the Nacional Park Isidoro-Sécure (TIPNIS)
These are low lands, mainly primary forest with a high potential for permanent reforestation. This area has presented some deforestation limited to the riversides and it is considered one of the more important wildlife habitats and great potential for eco-tourism.


Public Lands of Altamachi
These are unclassified forests located in the low lands above the colonized areas and at the border of the National Park Isidoro Sécure (TIPNIS). There is a high level of biological diversity and great potential for eco-tourism and hydroelectric power generation. It is faced with the threat of illicit coca plantations. The conservation of its river basins is important to protect the lower lands against flooding.


Private Forestry Lands

These are private properties located within the Multiple Use Forest, the Forestry Reserve of Chapare in the areas of Tablas Monte and TCO’s (Original Community Lands), whose location is not specified, however they are mainly primary forests with different degrees of exploitation. There are forestry plantations in reduced areas.

National Park Carrasco

This National Park includes the main colonized area at 350 to 4,500 m.a.s.l.. There is a high level of biological diversity and great potential for ecotourism and hydroelectric power generation. It is faced with the threat of illicit coca plantations. The conservation of its river basins is important to protect the lower lands against flooding.

Chapare Forests

These are primary forests with potential for productivity and apt for private forestry commissions or associations. Illegal activity or deforestation happen along the riverside and still lacks limits or boundaries that define the area.
Celebrates its 30th Edition

For the readers of The Cocha-Banner, this month marks a special milestone since the first creation of the magazine. The Cocha-Banner is celebrating its 30th edition. Those dedicated readers might even remember the times when the Cocha- Banner was little more than some sheets of paper compiled together with a few pictures in a hodgepodge of articles, poems, tongue twisters, and virtually anything the staff could add to entice the Cochabamba public. Needless to say, the

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