About the Northern Tiquipaya Wildlife Reserve

Northern Tiquipaya Wildlife Reserve (NTWR)

NTWR

Created in 2005 by order of the Municipal Government of Tiquipaya, the Northern Tiquipaya Wildlife Reserve (NTWR) protects 452 square miles of exceptional wildlife habitat on the eastern slope of the Andes Mountains in the Bolivian Department of Cochabamba. Elevations in the reserve range from 13,000 feet to less than 6,000 feet, and include habitats ranging from cold parámo grasslands to steamy sub-montane tropical forests.

Landscape diversity of this scale provides basic habitat requirements for a wide variety of plants and wildlife. Iconic mammal species found in the reserve include Spectacled bears, condors, and jaguars. Although incomplete, botanical research has shown the reserve to be particularly rich in plant life as well. Seventy-three species of orchids alone have been found within its boundaries, including a new species discovered in 2004. Evidence of this sort supports claims by groups like Conservation International that the Eastern Andes harbor some of the most bio-diverse landscapes found on the planet.

As stated in Tiquipaya Municipal Order #49/2005, the reserve was designated to fulfill the following objectives:

Protect areas of exceptional cultural, ecologic, and scenic value lying within the borders of the Northern Tiquipaya Wildlife Reserve.

Preserve productive watersheds in the Upper Amazon Basin to guarantee water supply for surrounding communities.

Conserve flora and fauna to sustain the evolutionary processes upon which the reserve’s biological diversity depends.

Promote ecologically sustainable ventures, such as organic beekeeping, that are compatible with the natural environment in addition to being socially and financially responsible.

Provide support for eco-tourism projects that strengthen community solidarity and generate income for local villages without causing negative effects on the local culture or environment.

    Location of the  Northern Tiquipaya Wildlife Reserve.

    History of the NTWR

    Due to the NTWR’s natural wealth, efforts to conserve it in its present state have met with difficulty. Beginning in the late 1990’s, members of Cochabamba’s Forestry Council began gathering support for the creation of a new national park that would protect 1,977 square miles of mountainous forests in the northern reaches of the Department of Cochabamba.

    In 2002, a measure to protect the area was approved by state authorities. However, popular opposition,  sparked by fears that conferral of national park status would result in limited land-use rights, stalled passage of the amendment before it could reach the Bolivian National Congress for final approval. Due to these protests, plans for the park, which would create a valuable corridor among existing protected areas, were eventually dropped.

    Despite the obvious difficulties, a Bolivian NGO, CIDEDER (Center for Ecological Defense and Rural Development), based in the city of Cochabamba began making visits to rural communities in Northern Tiquipaya with the goal of showing locals that the creation of a municipal reserve could be to their advantage. Although these communities initially reacted hesitantly, CIDEDER’s sensitivity to local cultural values and community needs began to pay off. Partnerships were formed with indigenous Quechua villages to develop micro-enterprise ventures designed to increase income through the production of organic honey and peppers. 

    With CIDERER’s support, local beekeepers saw the price of their honey improve and farmers received technical assistance to improve the production of traditional locoto peppers. CIDEDER also organized events to promote trout fishing in nearby highland lakes, which generated additional income for the seven communities involved.

    By helping these communities build on existing strengths, CIDEDER gained their trust and found that support for the creation of a wildlife reserve existed if assurances were made that it would not significantly alter existing self-sustaining land-use patterns. The Municipal Government of Tiquipaya agreed and formally created the reserve in 2005. The NTWR is the first wildlife reserve to be designated in Tiquipaya and one of the first of its kind in Central Bolivia.

    Above the Clouds, Off the Map Project

    In the spring of 2012, Joe Lowe completed an extensive investigation of the reserve with the purpose of identifying institutional weaknesses and providing site-specific recommendations. Lowe spent several weeks in Bolivia interviewing local, state and national tourism officials, involved NGO actors, community members living in and near the reserve, as well as several of Bolivia’s leading eco-tourism experts. The resulting document is intended to serve as a blue print to improve the reserve's eco-tourism program, primarily by increasing local participation, annual revenue, and tourist numbers. To view the document in pdf form please click here.