Monitoring and evaluation of productive systems and biodiversity


The objective of the program is to monitor and evaluate the different production systems, to generate tools for a good management of sustainable natural resources and to guarantee the conservation of biodiversity, for the benefit of future generations.

Implementation strategy

To achieve this goal, we collaborate with indigenous and peasant social organizations that are dedicated to productivity in forestry, agriculture and livestock, as well as with private companies dedicated to the management of natural resources and conservation.

Conventional permanent plots

The Forestry Law stipulates in its regulations that all areas under forest management must have a monitoring system of the forests used to evaluate their growth, yield and response to silvicultural treatments that are applied. For its part, the regulation indicates that this monitoring must be carried out through repeated measurements of permanent plots. The number of plots to be installed in an area under forest management depends on the productive area that the area has, being that the maximum number of permanent plots to be installed is 50 ha. For more details on the guidelines to be followed for the installation of permanent plots, see point 3.11 of Technical Norm 248/98 on the website of the Forestry Superintendence. It should also be mentioned that the Sustainable Forest Management Project (BOLFOR) developed the Guide for the installation of permanent plots to facilitate the establishment of the same. This methodology is the one that has been used to establish most of the conventional permanent plots.

The monitoring system defined by the Forestry Law has not been implemented satisfactorily, mainly due to the high costs involved in the implementation and adequate maintenance of the plots. For example, of the 560 hectares in permanent plots that were to be installed in 1998 and 1999, only 106 hectares were established. Aside from the plots established in the country to date, only about 30% were used to estimate growth rates and evaluate the performance of the forest. Most of these plots have been installed with the support of an external institution or project (for example, with support from the BOLFOR project). The remaining 70% present problems in their establishment, monitoring, or in the quality of the data obtained.

The difficulties in implementing the monitoring system have been identified by the Forest Superintendency. To correct or reduce the costs of establishing the plots, the Forest Superintendency adopted an alternative procedure for the installation of plots by region or forest formation, eight regions having been identified. The different users with forests under management in a certain region can be grouped to install a reduced number of plots. The group of concessionaires or owners must contract the services of an executing agency to evaluate the parcels. The executing agency must be an institution with experience in this type of work, and must be recognized by the Forestry Superintendence. To date there is only one group of dealers that has opted for this procedure. This group works in the Chiquitania and receives support for the monitoring of the plots of the Foundation for the Conservation of the Chiquitano Forest, the Forestry Chamber of Bolivia, the same companies, the IBIF and other organizations and universities.

So far there are 240 ha of conventional permanent plots installed in the main ecoregions within the areas of timber and non-timber forest production. Most of these plots have been remedied twice, but some have been remedied up to six times. The plots are being monitored every two years. There are conventional plots that have been monitored since 1996.

Experimental plots

A limitation of conventional permanent plots is their small size-usually one hectare. For research purposes of the impacts of the use, both of fauna and flora, one hectare does not allow to collect relevant information. Therefore, in order to assess the impact of the use of forest dynamics and biodiversity, as well as to generate information on the most appropriate silvicultural treatments for the country, the BOLFOR project, in collaboration with Bolivian institutions and international organizations, began in 2000 the execution of a Long-term Silvicultural Research Project (PISLP). The responsibility to continue with this research project was transferred to IBIF towards the end of 2003.

The PISLP consists of installing repeated experimental plots in different types of tropical forest in Bolivia to determine management practices appropriate to each type of forest.
So far, there are three blocks of plots in the subhumid forest (Guarayos zone), 1 block in a subhumid forest in the Bajo Paraguá (TCO of the Bajo Paraguá Indigenous Plant), two blocks in a dry forest (in the private property INPA) and a block in a very humid Amazon forest (in the SAGUSA forest concession). Each block contains an untapped control plot, a plot harvested using traditional methods (use of reduced impact with cutting of vines prior to harvesting) (Normal), a plot of moderate forestry (marking and release of future crop trees) and a intensive forestry plot (harder use, more intensive release treatments and soil scarification in clearings to induce regeneration). The treatments that were applied in the experimental plots represent alternatives of intensity of use and silvicultural systems. The detail of these treatments is described as follows:

Treatment Witness.- The plots of this treatment have not been exploited, although some vines were cut in the trees that could be used during the census phase.

Normal Treatment

(Normal Use) .- This treatment receives use according to the current extraction system of the company. This system includes: (a) road planning and utilization based on a commercial census of harvestable and remaining trees, (b) use of trees that exceed the minimum cutting diameter (DMC), generally 50 cm of DAP, (c) 20 % of commercial trees greater than the diameter limit are left as seedbeds and as a safety factor. (d) Cutting of vines from commercial trees before harvesting, and (e) cutting directed.

Improved treatment

(Use with Low Silviculture) .- The procedure of this treatment has received the operations described for the normal treatment, and additionally the following treatments were applied: (a) marked before harvesting trees of future harvest (AFC) of the species which are currently extracted by the company (Annex 1) (b) Cut of all vines located in the shaft or the AFC cup and (c) release of AFC from non-commercial competitors by ringing.

Intensive treatment(Harvesting with High Silviculture) .- This treatment received all the operations of the improved treatment, and additionally the following treatments were applied: (a) Additional marking of AFC of potentially commercial species, (b) cutting of vines and release of AFC of species potentially commercial, (c) double intensity of exploitation that includes the extraction of species that are currently not harvested by the company, but that are potential species, (d) improvement of stands that include banding of individuals of non-commercial tree species with DAP greater than 40 cm, except for important species for fauna (e) Mechanized scarification of the ground in clearings of use using “skidder”, at the moment of the extraction of the trunks.

Information obtained by the different studies of the plots

Only the most relevant information for the forest user coming from conventional and experimental plots is included here. For more detail on the publications made go to publications.

Conventional plots

The database of conventional plots was used by the BOLFOR project to generate the following documents:

Rates of diametric increase, mortality and recruitment based on the permanent plots installed in different regions of Bolivia.

This document contains the average growth rates of the most exploited species in four regions of the country. Also included are the growth rates of the species under optimum growth conditions (good stem quality, good cup shape, good light and no liana infestation). The rates of growth of commercial species for each company where permanent plots have been installed are included in the Annex.

Simulation model to evaluate the possibilities of harvest in the first and second cutting cycles in tropical forests of Bolivia

This document contains the results of simulations carried out to quantitatively evaluate the consequences of the decisions adopted in the management plans regarding cutting cycles and minimum cutting diameters. The model used for the simulations uses information from permanent plots (diameter distributions, growth rates) and management plans (minimum cutting diameter, cutting cycle, percentage of seed trees to be left). The simulations were carried out for each ecoregion taking into account all the species defined as usable, as well as taking into account only the most valuable species.

Experimental plots

Based on the information generated in the experimental plots of La Chonta, the following report was written:

Analysis of the costs and benefits of two silvicultural treatments applied in a Chiquitana-Amazon transition forest

This document presents the results of a cost-benefit analysis of two silvicultural treatments that are easy to apply and have a low cost. The results indicate that the application of these treatments will allow to increase the volume to be used in the next cutting cycle, which will result in a greater economic benefit for the forest user, as well as guaranteeing long-term forest production.

Damage to the forest under different silvicultural systems and intensities of forest use in two tropical forests of Bolivia.

In this study the impact of the use and application of silvicultural treatments in a dry forest and a subhumid forest is determined. The different types of damage produced are shown both at the level of all the species and at the trees of future harvest.


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