Passing through the Madidi Mosaic in Bolivia I witnessed one of the most biodiverse habitats on our planet. At the same time I saw new roads, burnt forests, logging, mining and coca plantations. All threatening this beauty. In addition, the government is planning a huge dam just outside of the national park, flooding enormous areas of indigenous settlements, about 2000 square kilometers, and species unknown to mankind.
No protected area on earth has a greater variety of life than the Madidi Mosaic. This fact alone demonstrates the urgency of protecting this area. Since the creation of the Madidi National Park in 1995 funding for international non governmental organizations to work in these areas has poured in. Unfortunately, these past ten years have demonstrated the increasing degradation of these areas.
The roads built by the lumber companies and governmental promises of employment in the sugar refinery, a senseless project that is currently being developed which involves burning thousands of hectares of the most biodiverse forests in the world, were the first motivators of migration into the area by colonizers. This is perhaps understandable, as many of these decisions were made in governmental offices before there was much awareness of the importance of the area. Also mining, petroleum extraction, are serious threats to this diverse ecosystem. As well as direct habitat loss these activities also come with an increase of new settlers and infrastructure.
Bolivia has among the most beautiful mountains in the world, rivaled only by the Himalayas. From altitudes well over six thousand meters, waters from these mountains work their way down to the Amazon. The waters form mountain lakes from which small streams trickle, some of which become rivers or form powerful waterfalls, moving on down through cloud forests, into subtropical forests, converging into navigable rivers which facilitate access into tropical forests. A few years ago a fifty year old plan to build a dam in the Madidi National Park was revived by politicians. Through the efforts of a few these plans have been stopped, but only temporarily.