SERGIO RUIZ, CARMEN GOTTWALD, MICHEL BECKER
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Institute of Forest Policy, Market and Marketing Section, Germany
Between 1996 and 2000, the legal foundations of rural communities in northern Bolivia have changed substantially. In the departments of the Bolivian Amazon, where more than 90% of land area is natural forest, this has an effect primarily on the use of forest resources by indigenous and peasant communities: Formally acknowledged communities (according to the `Ley de Participación Popular') are allowed in the areas assigned to them as community land (according to the Laws of Agrarian Land Reform) to commercially use timber and non-timber forest products on the basis of forest management plans approved and supervised by the forest administration (according to the `Ley Forestal').
The new legal framework has raised high expectations in the roughly 300 rural communities existing in this region, especially concerning the commercial use of tropical timber. Actually, land allocation towards rural communities is making progress, so that increasingly a basis for communal forest management is emerging. However, field research shows that the establishment of sustainable forest management through the communities is hampered by serious internal and external difficulties:
Our research is presently oriented towards identifying approaches to overcome institutional problems that present the successful implementation of communal land use.
Keywords: Bolivian Amazon, community forestry, land use reform