World Rainforest Movement

Bolivia: good news regarding the Chiquitano forests

Since 1998, Bolivian and international environmental and social NGOs, as well as academics, have been opposing the San Miguel-Cuiaba gas pipeline project of Enron-Shell which will cross Bolivia into Brazil, causing a negative environmental impact on the Chiquitano dry forest in eastern Bolivia, which is the world’s last significant remnant of intact dry tropical forest. In spite of this opposition, in June 1999 OPIC (Overseas Private Investment Corporation) -a descentralized financial institution of the US government- decided to finance the project. Such decision was allegedly taken because some Bolivian, US and international conservationist organizations had negotiated with the promoters of the project their support to it if a Conservation Plan was implemented. This surprising attitute was severely questioned by a number of Bolivian environmental and human rights NGOs (see WRM Bulletin 24).

Fortunately, some of those NGOs seem to have realized their mistake and recently the WWF announced that it would not continue supporting the above mentioned Conservation Plan. Such decision is the direct result of the concerned NGOs’ work, which oppose the “green make-up” that was trying to be applied to this unsustainable infrastructure project. It is expected that WWF’s new approach to the issue may convince OPIC to change its mind regarding financing of the project.

Source: Drillbits & Tailings (Spanish version), 4-15, 25/9/99.