Skip to main content

Interpreting Environmental Changes in the Southern Bolivian Andes: Rural Responses and Political Actions

Part of the Springer Earth System Sciences book series (SPRINGEREARTH)

Abstract

Rural people in the southern Andes mountains of Bolivia may choose to plant different crops, to keep livestock under different conditions and to diversify their livelihood strategies in ways that involve less investment of time in farming and more involvement in commercial activities. These changes are in response to change in both physical and cultural environments and are examined here. Policies and activities by local and national government that are intended to reduce the impact of a range of environmental changes on people and their physical environments are considered and evaluated. We conclude that there is limited evidence that changes in the natural environment such as soil erosion and degeneration of vegetation in the Altiplano and adjacent valleys in western Tarija are more rapid than in the recent past. Changes in the use of different areas for livestock and crops reflect accommodation to culturally-determined household preferences for cattle over other ruminants. Farmers are used to change and readily modify their use of different areas of land to ensure that livestock can survive and necessary crops can be harvested. With respect to local political responses to environmental issues, the history of action that started in 1930 is notable. We conclude that such action had only limited environmental consequences in the Tarija valleys. There is no evidence to suggest that recent regional governments have been adequately informed or politically motivated to take remedial action to help those suffering from extreme climatic events or other environmental stresses.

Keywords

  • Environmental change
  • Household livelihoods
  • Landscape evolution

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-16014-1_14
  • Chapter length: 20 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
eBook
USD   169.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-642-16014-1
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book
USD   219.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book
USD   219.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Fig. 14.1
Fig. 14.2
Fig. 14.3
Fig. 14.4
Fig. 14.5
Fig. 14.6
Fig. 14.7

References

  • Arzeno, M. (2000). Desestructuración de la economía campesina y problemáticas ambientales en un área de la Quebrada de Humahuaca. Informe Técnico, Proyecto Ambiente y Sociedad en los Andes: Estrategias y Políticas, Instituto de Geografía, Universidad de Buenos Aires. https://sites.google.com/site/dpresearch36/home/bolivia/tarija.

  • Beck, S., Paniagua, N., Yevara, M., & Liberman, M. (2001). La vegetación y uso de la tierra del altiplano y de los valles en el oeste del departamento de Tarija. In S. Beck, N. Paniagua & D. Preston (Eds.), Historia, ambiente y sociedad en Tarija, Bolivia (pp. 47–93). La Paz: Instituto de Ecología, Universidad Mayor de San Andrés.

    Google Scholar 

  • Chaplin, A. (2007). Percepciones de comunarios y comunarias del altiplano Boliviano sobre los cambios en el clima y sus efectos. La Paz: CIPE, CIPCA and Christian Aid.

    Google Scholar 

  • Chepstow-Lusty, A. J., Bennett, K. D., Fjeldsa, J., Kendall, A., Gallano, W., & Tupyachi Herrera, A. (1998). Tracing 4000 years of environmental history in the Cuzco area, Peru, from the pollen record. Mountain Research and Development, 18, 159–172.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Coppus, R., Imeson, A., & Sevink, J. (2003). Identification, distribution and characteristics of erosion sensitive areas in three different Central Andean ecosystems. Catena, 513, 315–328.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Corrado, A., & Comajuncosa, A. (1990). El colegio franciscano de Tarija y sus misiones (Vol. 1). Tarija: Editorial Franciscana.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fairbairn, J. (1999). Estrategias de sobrevivencia de hogares en el altiplano tarijeño y el valle del rio San Juan del Oro, Bolivia, Documento de Trabajo 99/01 School of Geography, University of Leeds. https://sites.google.com/site/dpresearch36/home/bolivia/tarija.

  • Fairbairn, J., Preston, D., Paniagua, N., & Maas, G. (2000). Grazing and environmental change on the Tarija altiplano, Working Paper 00/04, School of Geography, University of Leeds. https://sites.google.com/site/dpresearch36/home/bolivia/tarija.

  • Freeman, P. H. (1980). Bolivia. State of the environment and natural resources. A field study. McLean, Va.: JRB Associates.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ). (1988). Bolivia, desarrollo agroforestal en el valle de Tarija. Relato Final. La Paz: GTZ.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lathrap, D. W. (1973). The antiquity and importance of long-distance trade relationships in the moist tropics of pre-Columbian South America. World Archeology, 5, 170–186.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Maas, G., Macklin, M., Warburton, J., Woodward, J., & Meldrum, E. (2001). A 300-year history of flooding in an Andean mountain river system: the Río Alizos, southern Bolivia. In D. Maddy, M. Macklin, & J. Woodward (Eds.), River basin sediment systems: Archives of environmental change (pp. 297–323). Rotterdam: Balkema.

    Google Scholar 

  • Murra, J. V. (1972). El control vertical de un máximo de pisos ecológicos en la economía de las sociedades andinas, In I Ortiz de Zúñiga, Visita a la provincia de León de Huánuco [1562] (Vol. 2, pp. 429–476). Huánuco: Universidad Nacional Hermilio Valdizan.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nordgren, M. (2011). Cambios climáticos. Percepciones, efectos y respuestas en cuatro regiones de Bolivia. La Paz: CIPCA.

    Google Scholar 

  • Paniagua, N., & Yevara, M. (2000). Caracterización de las pastures y el pastoreo en las comunidades de Tojo (Cuenca del río San Juan del Oro) y Juntas (Cuenca del Río Camacho), Tarija, Bolivia. Informe Técnico 2000/02. https://sites.google.com/site/dpresearch36/home/bolivia/tarija.

  • van der Ploeg, J. D. (2008). The new peasantries. Struggles for autonomy and sustainability in an era of empire and globalization. London: Earthscan.

    Google Scholar 

  • Presta, A. M. (2001). ‘Hermosos, fértiles y abundantes’. Los valles centrales de Tarija y su población en el siglo XVI. In S. Beck, N. Paniagua & D. Preston (Eds.), Historia, ambiente y sociedad en Tarija, Bolivia (pp. 25–39). La Paz: Instituto de Ecología, Universidad Mayor de San Andrés.

    Google Scholar 

  • Preston, D. (1998). Postpeasant capitalist graziers: The 21st century in southern Bolivia. Mountain Research and Development, 18, 93–122.

    Google Scholar 

  • Preston, D. (2000). Pastoreo en el altiplano Tarijeño: cambios 1906–1999, EU Project Working Paper 00/02, School of Geography, University of Leeds. https://sites.google.com/site/dpresearch36/home/bolivia/tarija.

  • Preston, D., Montaño, R., & Cano, M. I. (2011). Trajectories of change: household livelihood dynamics in rural communities in southern Bolivia, Research Report, Proyecto HEDECOM, Tarija. https://sites.google.com/site/dpresearch36/home/bolivia/tarija.

  • Preston, D., & Punch, S. (2001). Estrategias de vida del hogar, sistemas de producción y medio ambiente: el valle Camacho, Bolivia. In S. Beck, N. Paniagua & D. Preston (Eds.), Historia, ambiente y sociedad en Tarija, Bolivia (pp. 95–122). La Paz: Instituto de Ecología, Universidad Mayor de San Andrés.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ruíz Martínez, J. (2001). Lucha contra la erosión en el Valle de Tarija, un acercamiento a la visión del trabajo institucional. In S. Beck, N. Paniagua & D. Preston (Eds.), Historia, ambiente y sociedad en Tarija, Bolivia (pp. 217–230). La Paz: Instituto de Ecología, Universidad Mayor de San Andrés.

    Google Scholar 

  • Saignes, T. (1995). Indian migration and social change in 17th century Charcas. In B. Larson & O. Harris (Eds.), Ethnicity, markets and migration in the Andes (pp. 167–195). Durham: Duke University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Seiler, C., Hutjes, R. W. A., & Kabat, P. (2013). Likely ranges of climate change in Bolivia. Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, 52, 1303–1317.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Thibeault, J. -M. (2010). Changing climate in the Bolivian Altiplano, PhD, University of Connecticut. http://digitalcommons.uconn.edu/dissertations/AAI3415565/.

  • Valdivia, C., Thibeault, J., Gilles, L., Garcia, M., & Seth, A. (2013). Climate change trends and projections for the Andean Altiplano and strategies for adaptation. Advances in Geosciences, 33, 69–77.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Wilson, A. D., & MacLeod, N. D. (1991). Overgrazing: Present or absent? Journal of Range Management, 44, 475–482.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Zimmerer, K. S. (1996). Discourses on soil loss in Bolivia. Sustainability and the socioenvironmental ‘middle ground’. In R. Peet & M. Watts (Eds.), Liberation ecologies. Environment, development and social movements (pp. 110–124). London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to David Preston .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2016 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Preston, D. (2016). Interpreting Environmental Changes in the Southern Bolivian Andes: Rural Responses and Political Actions. In: Behnke, R., Mortimore, M. (eds) The End of Desertification? . Springer Earth System Sciences. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-16014-1_14

Download citation