Biodiversity and economically important species in the tropical Andes – A research collaboration between Bolivia, Ecuador, and Denmark


Start date: 31 December, 2007 End date: 31 March, 2012 Project type: Larger strategic projects (prior to 2013) Project code: 206-AU Countries: Bolivia Ecuador Thematic areas: Natural resource management, Lead institution: Aarhus University (AU), Denmark Project coordinator: Henrik Baslev Total grant: 5,185,382 DKK

Project summary

Biodiversity is important for the survival of people. In developing countries – and especially among the poor – dependence is great. Knowledge of native species is therefore essential. Without profound knowledge this resource cannot be managed sustainably. The poorest countries do not have sufficient research capacity to describe and explore those species that are of economic importance to their inhabitants. Often there is more knowledge about the countries' native species
in industrialized countries. This is the case in Ecuador and Bolivia. This project will educate young researchers to generate knowledge about their countries' biological resources and to access and use knowledge that exsists in international databanks and in industrialized countries' institutions where knowledge has accumulated over the past 2–300 years. The project activities are directed towards research relating to the many thousand economically important species that are being used by the local populations in Bolivia and Ecuador, and also to more fundamental scientific
themes such as how biodiversity is distributed relative to geographic patterns and evolutionary and ecological processes. Such basic knowledge is important to create a solid fundament for plans for the sustainable use of native species. The project will contribute to local institutions' building of reference collections that will serve ass documentation and tools for the identification of the countries' species. The applicant has experience from a similar (1. generation), project in Ecuador
and the proposed 2nd generation project will build on the previous and involve Ecuadorian researchers and students in developing the resource base in Bolivia.



This year was the final phase of the BEISA-2 project and covered an extension period of six month to wrap up the second project phase. The project built research capacity related to sustainable use of biodiversity in Bolivia and made it available to villagers and authorities. The project was done in Serrania de Iñao that includes well preserved natural habitats and a rich biodiversity. It helped villagers in park to use local plant resources in sustainable ways that do not destroy the biological diversity. Based at the University of Sucre (USFX) BEISA-2 carried out a series of research and development activities with participation of researchers, teachers and students from the university. The project supported 18 thesis projects at the university. All activities were coordinated with local, municipal and national park authorities and used a participatory approach involving villagers in various aspects of the activities. The results of the projects were continuously communicated to the villagers and authorities through meetings and workshops. The project also shared its results internationally through an international symposium in Sucre with 16 Bolivian and 17 foreign speakers. The project, apart from the practicals of carrying out research in local communities involved theoretical aspects where background knowledge was taught in courses by Danish and foreign experts. Most of the graduates from the project are now working in local administration,  NGOs, the university and other institutions. Other have chosen to continue their studies, some locally and others abroad. The Danish participation in the project was through the Research Group for Ecoinformatics and Biodiversity of Aarhus University.

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