Technical Staff from Bolivian Environmental Agencies Visit Acre, Brazil to Exchange Integrated Land and Forest Management Experiences
A group of technical staff from the Bolivian Authority for the Supervision and Social Control of Forests and Lands (ABT) and the Vice Ministry of the Environment (VMA) visited with Acre, Brazil government officials in May to exchange experiences and practices. The state of Acre, located in the Western Amazon region of Brazil, is widely recognised as a best practice example of forest-based sustainable natural resource use that has achieved impressive economic growth.
The opportunity for Bolivian environmental experts to exchange experiences with experts from the state of Acre came at a critical moment, as Bolivia is currently developing its alternative mechanism to REDD+, known as the Joint Mechanism for Mitigation and Adaptation to Climate Change. In addition, Bolivia is seeking to implement its policy on integrated land and forest management. WWF offices in Bolivia and Brazil, with support from WWF-UK and the WWF Living Amazon Initiative, have been instrumental in bringing authorities from Acre and Bolivia together to discuss common areas of concern and potential for future cooperation.
The purpose of this initial exchange visit was for the Bolivian team to become familiar with the technical and operational aspects of the monitoring and certification systems of Acre’s environmental incentives system. This knowledge will contribute to the design of the Bolivian monitoring and certification system.
Carlos Salinas, head of the Bolivian team and a representative of Bolivia’s VMA, described the visit as a valuable opportunity to “become familiar with the monitoring system used by the State of Acre and its practical application, as well as the lessons learned in the development of the system.”
In terms of system certification, the Bolivian team was eager to better understand the Acre incentives system in relation to the activities developed by the communities and private individuals.
The teams also exchanged information on methodologies and instruments and identified that both face similar challenges related to these.
One difference identified through the knowledge exchange was that Acre has access to key information from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research. Another difference is the way in which Acre integrates the different sources of information into an integrated environmental management information system. In Bolivia, similar information is available but is not used in an integrated way to develop effective monitoring and control mechanisms.
“In Bolivia we are not so far behind; Acre has a monitoring system similar to our own with comparable margins of error in the detection of fires,” said Willy Severiche, with the Bolivian Forest and Land Authority, of the differences in the two systems.
The monitoring system used in Acre forms part of an integrated information system which makes it possible to determine rights of ownership and land use, environmental licensing, including legal authorization of logging activities and the monitoring of compliance with approved activities. This system’s design provides important inputs for the development of an appropriate system for Bolivia.
Acre and Bolivia also identified the shared challenge of not being able to monitor deforestation with sufficient regularity to be able to act in a timely manner against illegal logging.
In addition, the teams identified that there are significant differences in the structure of incentives between Acre and Bolivia. Acre applies policy instruments such as the access to credit, provision of technical assistance and marketing support conditional on compliance with improved management practices aimed at reducing deforestation and controlling fire. In Bolivia, the policy framework is being revised with the hope of including a similar certification and incentives system. The Bolivian team noted that they are particularly interested to receive support from the Acre team on this issue.
In order to establish a legal framework for the continuation of technical exchanges between Bolivia and Acre, it was suggested in the meeting with the State Attorney General for Acre, Dr. Rodrigo Fernandes das Neves, that cooperation between Bolivia and Acre should focus on activities in the State of Pando with which Acre has signed a trans-boundary cooperation agreement. According to Salinas, Pando is a national priority of Bolivia´s environmental agenda.
Both teams agreed to continue dialogue, exchange of knowledge and training, focusing on monitoring, integrated management, farm certification and the promotion of cross border environmental management.
This trans-border initiative represents a step forward in finding a regional solution for common challenges shared by Brazil and Bolivia in the Amazon biome. Dr. Eufran Ferreira do Amaral, director of the Climate Change Institute of the government of Acre, expressed his willingness to help move forward an agenda with Bolivian government authorities. The Forests and Lands Authority is currently working on identifying specific themes for cooperation that can be shared with the authorities in Acre.