Tropical Important Plant Areas (TIPAs) in Bolivia

Identifying Tropical Important Plant Areas in the Chiquitano ecoregion of Bolivia and bordering Brazil.

Bolivian plains


Bolivia is over 1,000,000 km2, about five times the size of the UK. It has a wide variety of ecoregions: from the highland plains in the Andes, dry Andean valleys, the llanos on the slopes of the Andes, and extensive subtropical savannas and Amazon rainforest in the eastern part of the country. This mosaic of habitats supports a wealth of rare and unique animal and plant species and has resulted in Bolivia being one of the world’s megadiverse countries with 15,345 plant species recorded for the country in the first ever census published in 2014. However, there are still vast areas of Bolivia that have never been surveyed for plant biodiversity, where many species new to science are predicted be discovered; many biodiverse areas are severely threatened by conversion of habitats for intensive soybean and cattle farming, road construction, and extensive gas and oil exploration.

Chiquitano dry forest

Roughly in the centre of South America, most of the Chiquitano dry forest lies within the eastern lowlands of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, with smaller patches extending into western Mato Grosso, Brazil. The Chiquitano ecoregion is severely threatened particularly by conversion of its habitats to intensive soybean and cattle farming and is in need of habitat conservation assessment. With its Bolivian partners Kew will identify the most fragile and biodiverse of the Bolivian and Brazilian Chiquitano forests as Tropical Important Plant Areas (TIPAs) on a global scale. Moreover, Kew and it’s Bolivian partner at the Natural History Museum (MHNNKM) in Santa Cruz have vast expertise in Chiquitano forest research, amongst others from a previous project funded by the Darwin Initiative.

Why Kew?

The Bolivia TIPAs project is a Kew-Bolivia collaboration integrating: species and habitat data collection, banking the seeds of endangered species for the future in-country, with targeted field surveys, data analysis and distribution modelling, and policy engagement. The project is part of a Kew-wide TIPAs programme which aims to assist in the identification of TIPAs in seven tropical countries (New Guinea, Bolivia, British Virgin Islands, Guinea, Cameroon, Mozambique, and Uganda) and builds on the successful Important Plant Areas (IPAs) for plant conservation applied in Europe by Plantlife International - a lead partner for the Convention on Biological Diversity.


  • Launch the project, host TIPAs methodology and specimen digitisation coordination workshop for all Bolivian stakeholders.
  • Unlock the Bolivian specimen data held in the four key Bolivian herbaria and at Kew, by digitising and georeferencing label information, and imaging the specimens.
  • Training courses to increase Bolivian capacity in seed banking and storage techniques.
  • Gap-filling knowledge: joint habitat survey and seed conservation expeditions to targeted chiquitano sites potential for TIPAs designation; analyse the data collected; and utilise these results to identify priority chiquitano forest sites for conservation at national and global scale.
  • Promote the inclusion of TIPAs within a national conservation/land management framework, leading to the protection and sustainable use of the designated priority sites.
  • Establish a Chiquitano GBIF-like database with vouchered and verified specimen data.
  • Publish the discovery of species new to science, and results of the ecoregion analysis in joint peer-reviewed publications.
  • Interactive map of Bolivia


  • Museo de Historia Natural, Noel Kempff Mercado, Universidad Autonoma Gabriel Rene Moreno, Santa Cruz, Bolivia
  • Herbario Nacional de Bolivia, Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, La Paz, Bolivia
  • Herbario Forestal Martín Cárdenas, Universidad Mayor de San Símon, Cochabamba, Bolivia
  • Herbario del Sur, Facultad de Ciencias Agrarias, Universidad San Francisco Xavier de Chuquisaca, Sucre, Bolivia
  • Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil
  • Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, U.S.A.


  • Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh
  • University of Oxford

Jardim, A., Killeen, T.J. & Fuentes, A. (2003)

Guía de los Arboles y Arbustos del Bosque Seco Chiquitano, Boliviano

Editorial FAN, Santa Cruz

Wood, J.I. (ed.) (2010)

Libro Rojo de las Plantas de los Cerrados del Oriente Boliviano

Museo de Historia Natural Noel Kempff Mercado, Santa Cruz

Wood, J.I. (ed.) (2011)

Guía DARWIN de las plantas de los cerrados de la Chiquitania

Museo de Historia Natural Noel Kempff Mercado, Santa Cruz

Jørgensen, P.M., Nee, M.H. & Beck, S. (eds) (2015)

Catálogo de las Plantas Vasculares de Bolivia. Volumes I and II

Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis

Power, M.J, Whitney, B.S., Mayle, F.E., Neves, D.M., Boer, E.J. de & Madean, K.S. (2016)

Fire, climate and vegetation linkages in the Bolivian Chiquitano seasonally dry forest

Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 371: 20150165

Kew projects

Annotated Systematic Checklist of the Compositae of Bolivia

Forest Futures Bolivia

Kew Strategic Output

Tropical Important Plant Areas


NeotropTree (tree flora of the Neotropical region)

Catalogue of Bolivian Vascular Plants