Cattle Ranching in Conservation
Hear how Tjalle Boorsma (2020 FFN Award winner) safeguards the blue throated macaw with innovative and sustainable cattle ranching in Bolivia.
This event has passed
Wednesday, September 6, 2023
Impulse 115, The Speakers Corner
Wageningen University & Research, Stippeneng 2, 6708PB
On the 6th of September Tjalle Boorsma gave an inspiring lecture at Wageningen campus about cattle ranching in combination with nature conservation in the Beni savanna region in Bolivia. He talked about the Barba Azul nature reserve and explained how important it is to think about sustainable land use practices and long-term solutions for protecting nature by including a source of income to be able to continue.
Tjalle’s focus lies on protecting the blue throated macaw of which in 2011 only 400 individuals were left in the Barba Azul nature reserve. The Beni savanna, in which this reserve lies, is threatened due to unsustainable cattle ranching and the uprise of large monocrop farms destined for soy or rice plantations. Tjalle’s non-profit organization Asociacion Armonia is working hard on strategies involving local stakeholders to protect the reserve. And with success, as the population of blue throated macaws is currently estimated to be around the 650 individuals.
In 2011 Tjalle did his thesis in Bolivia and saw the concerns first hand. In 2015 he decided to leave the Netherlands for his mission to stop the rapid decline of biodiversity in the Beni Savannas. One of the main aspects in the current project involves sustainable cattle ranching in the reserve. Tjalle explained that in the past the Bolivian savannas where home to large grazing mammals which played an important role in the ecosystem by keeping the grass short and by fertilizing the ground. Due to the extinction of those animals grass was not maintained and the ecosystem changed, causing concerns for many species’ survival.
With the introduction of sustainable cattle ranching to fulfil the purpose of the large grazing mammals several species thrive again in the Barba Azul nature reserve. For instance, the buff-breasted Sandpiper, a species which travels all the way from North America to the south and was found taking a pitstop in the reserve. Now, the short grasslands allow them to forage for food on their long journey.
He also explained how important the men made forest islands are which date back from the Inca period. These forest islands are used as shelter by animals living in the Barba Azul nature reserve as they are the only areas that do not flood during the raining season. Furthermore, Tjalle is also organising meetings with the local cattle rangers to show them the benefits of sustainable land uses and how to generate sufficient income to fight the large monoculture farms and support nature conservation.
With this approach Tjalle wants to show that nature conservation and sustainable cattle ranging can go hand in hand and can even be a way to support species diversification and protection. In short, a super interesting lecture about involving the small stakeholders in new sustainable techniques for the future of nature conservation.
By Marijn van Ark
Hear how Tjalle Boorsma (2020 FFN Award winner) safeguards the blue throated macaw with innovative and sustainable cattle ranching in Bolivia!