Chiquitano Model Forest

In a nutshell

Chiquitano Model Forest was created in order to practice, share alternative approaches to sustainable development and the participatory management of natural resources in the Chiquitanía region.

The diversity of actors, the importance of traditional and cultural practices for livelihoods, the different types of land use and the well conserved state of its natural wealth make the Chiquitano Model Forest a unique region. With this set of characteristics, the Model Forest can share initiatives and create partnerships that facilitate and expand actions towards sustainable development that are in harmony with the conservation of the environmental functions of the forest.

Despite the positive state of its natural resources, illegal settlements, the expansion of agricultural activities and unsustainable practices, forest fires, illegal logging, mining and climate change are the main threats to the integrity of the landscape. The Model Forest addresses these challenges by acting as a platform bringing together the different stakeholders in the region.


Chiquitano Model Forest encompasses more than 70% of the territory of the Department of Santa Cruz. It is made up of complex, fragile and still little known ecosystems in terms of biodiversity and ecological functioning. The largest and best-preserved tropical dry forest in the Americas, one of the richest areas of the continent in terms of biological diversity, is found here.

In this Model Forest, there are 5 National Protected Areas, 5 municipal reserves, 10 Natural Heritage Conservation Units, 20 Private Reserves of Natural Heritage as well as Indigenous territories. The value of the dry forest of the Chiquitanía lies both in its extraordinary natural wealth, as well as its state of conservation, in addition to the historical and cultural value that allows it to be recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Chiquitano Model Forest constitutes a complex sociocultural mosaic. The area is administered by 14 municipalities and has 42 settlements, with more than 200,000 inhabitants, including Chiquitanos, Guarayos, Ayoreos, Criollos and indigenous settlers from western Bolivia (Quechuas, Aymaras), as well as Mennonite settlers.

The current economic situation is strongly related to the extraction of its natural resources. Economic-productive activities of the forest industry, livestock and grain agriculture predominate. There are also other important sectors, such as mining, tourism, handicrafts and industry.


The General Assembly, Chiquitano’s decision-making body, consists of voluntary representativesfrom regional and local governments, civil society organizations, local organizations and productive sectors. The Assembly is responsible for approving institutional policies, strategic direction and priority actions of the Model Forest. It is also responsible for selecting the Board of Directors.

The Board of Directors is elected by the Assembly to represent and make decisions regarding the Model Forest in internal and external fora, at local, national and international levels. The Management team executes the work plan according to the approved Strategic Plan, and prioritizes the actions and particular projects that arise from it.

The Presidency is in charge of the Secretariat of Sustainable Development and Environment of the Government of Santa Cruz, and of the Secretariat of the Foundation for the Conservation of the Chiquitano Forest (FCBC).


Strategic goals:


  • By 2020, progress in the practice of integrated water management.

Land and territory – governance:

  • By 2021, develop and sensitize society in the importance of sustainable development and the natural environment through environmental education.
  • By 2021, establish platforms for territorial planning in the area of ​​ Chiquitano Model Forest, with a view to promoting the sustainable management and use of productive landscapes and lifestyles.

Management of natural resources and sustainable production:

  • By 2020, in each municipality, support value chain training for small and medium-sized enterprises such as tourism, handicraft production, green production, and non-timber forest product (NTFP) eco-companies to diversify the local economy based on the sustainable management of natural resources.
  • By 2021, promote training on sustainable agriculture and conservation practices, through civil society organizations and academic entities, thus contributing to the conservation of the Chiquitanía’s ecosystems.

Governance of the Model Forest:

  • By the end of the year 2019, strengthen the governance structure of Chiquitano Model Forest by improving its internal processes, leadership management and coordination of sustainability initiatives, and by positioning itself as a valuable platform for the promotion of sustainable development of the Chiquitanía.


Key actions in place to reach these goals:


  • We promote, training on Integrated Water Resource Management through partnerships with civil society organizations, academics and water managers;
  • We accompany the Government of Santa Cruz in the construction of an Integrated Water Resource Management plan.

Land and territory – governance:

  • We develop and execute workshops for municipalities on the identification of vulnerabilities, contingency plans and adaptation methods;
  • We support the integration of an environmental agenda in relevant schools and ensure coordination and communication with environmental education initiatives run by public and private actors;
  • We organize dialogue tables and other interaction modalities between civil society and relevant authorities to improve the flow of information, articulation and impact on public policies and instruments related to territorial management and conservation.

Management of natural resources and sustainable production:

  • We promote the diversification of local and sustainable economic opportunities and activities through dialogue and coordination among the different stakeholders;
  • We promote sustainable NTFPs as a real economic alternative for the inhabitants of the Chiquitanía, which contributes to biodiversity conservation, improvements to quality of lifeand socio-cultural strengthening;
  • We coordinate training activities on good production practices, in collaboration with those responsible for their execution, and present them to public actors and producers for their validation and implementation.

Governance of the Model Forest:

We work in partnership with national and international institutions that contribute to promoting the importance of the Model Forest concept and leverage these alliances to identify and access funding sources.

Learn more about Chiquitano Model Forest

Report: Diagnóstico por teledetección de áreas quemadas en la Chiquitanía (diciembre 2019) (available in Spanish only)




Eastern Region, Department of Santa Cruz

Area (ha):


Regional affiliation:

Latin-American Model Forest Network

Year joined IMFN:


Number of inhabitants:


Contact information


Roberto Vides –

Jenny Flores – 

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