Stolen Amazon: the roots of environmental crime in Bolivia

This study on Bolivia, in partnership with InSight Crime, provides a comprehensive overview of the complex network of actors, including state and non-state entities, and the relationships that perpetuate environmental crime in the Bolivian Amazon. It seeks to understand the contemporary dynamics of environmental crimes in the Amazon basin region and to propose effective public policies to combat these illicit activities at regional, national, and local levels. Rather than just diagnosing the issue, it aims to raise new dialogue and intervention opportunities regarding environmental crime in the region.

This study addresses long-standing issues of securing land rights to traditional communities in the Amazon, many of which currently face new forms of land grabbing and land trafficking, notably by export companies extracting natural resources. The study also includes ideas for reforming and strengthening structurally sensitive and corruption-prone public institutions in the Bolivian Amazon, especially those related to land, environmental, and security issues.

Furthermore, it sheds light on the transnational and cross-border dynamics of environmental crime in Bolivia, including activities such as wildlife trafficking, illegal mercury trade for river-gold mining, and illicit logging exports. In this context, managing increasingly complex and globalized supply chains initiating in or cutting through the Bolivian Amazon calls for more and stronger regional and international cooperation to dismantle environmental crime and protect the forest and its people.

The findings and analysis are based on one year of open-source and fieldwork investigation in the cities of La Paz and Santa Cruz. They include desk research, phone interviews, and face-to-face interviews with environmental experts, government and security officials, local community members, academics, and others.


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