Priority conservation areas in the Central Andean Valleys of Bolivia

Leaflets and poster: information resources for key conservation areas


TorotoroThis project, coordinated by John Wood, was established to follow up recommendations made in a Darwin Initiative project involving Oxford University and four Bolivian herbaria headed by the Bolivian National Herbarium (LPB). The project focused on four areas identified as important for conservation within the Inter-Andean valley system, specifically:

  • Parque Nacional Torotoro
  • Area Natural de Manejo Integrado (ANMI) El Palmar
  • Parque Arqueologico, El Fuerte, Samaipata
  • The area of Cerro Chataquila and Cerro Obispo near Sucre
Project Aim

Promote the long-term conservation of four key areas with high tourist potential within the Inter-Andean valley system of Bolivia.

Activities and Outputs

Field collecting, photography and ecological and ethnographic studies; design, production and distribution of one information leaflet for each area

Four journeys were made to Samaipata and Torotoro and three to El Palmar and Chataquila. Each trip involved several days’ field work, taking photographs, collecting information, making observations and collecting specimens. Based on this work, four information leaflets were prepared, printed and distributed. The leaflets were designed to be colourful and informative and show plants which can be found along the main tourist paths. Plants were selected partly because they were conspicuous features of the area and partly because of their conservation importance. All four leaflets carry a conservation message.

Botanical inventories

Approximately 1000 herbarium specimens were collected in the course of inventory work at the four sites. Species of note include the following:

  • Torotoro - More than 40 species endemic to Bolivia are present in the park. These include undescribed species of Mastigostyla (Iridaceae), Cardenanthus (Iridaceae), Porthieva (Orchidaceae), Aloysia (Verbenaceae), the first three only known from the park, as well as nationally rare endemic species such as Hippeastrum mollevillquense and Echinopsis caineana. During the course of our field work we found another Cardenanthus, which is also apparently new, as well as important extensions of range of rare endemic species such as Viola flavicans. Although this area mostly contains elements typical of the prepuna and dry valleys there are isolated populations of endemic species from the Tucuman-Bolivian forest belt notably Cuphea scaberrima and Dyschoriste boliviana.
  • El Palmar - More than 25 species are endemic to the reserve. These include the main world population of the endemic palm Parajubaea torallyi and the very rare shrub Columellia oblonga (Columelliaceae). During the course of our field work we discovered apparent new species of Puya (Bromeliaceae) and Pyrolirion (Amaryllidaceae), second records of the rare endemic species Eryngium woodii (Apiaceae), Gorgonidium striatum (Araceae) and an apparently undescribed species of Cardenanthus (Iridaceae). The vegetation is essentially an isolated colony of Tucuman-Bolivian forest surrounded on all sides by dry valley vegetation.
  • Samaipata - More than 20 species are endemic to this small area including three species of Puya. The site has the main populations of two very local endemic species, Puya nana (Bromeliaceae) and Ruellia antiquorum, and close by are the main populations of the endemic Banara boliviensis (Flacourtiaceae) and the endemic cactus genus Samaipaticereus correanus. The area is outstanding for the mix of vegetation types with dry valley endemics such as Lepechinia bella growing close to cerrado species such Barjonia erecta or plants typical of the Tucuman-Bolivian forest region, such as the endemic Dyschoriste boliviana. Our most important discovery was of an apparently unknown species of Ennealophus (Iridaceae)
  • Chataquila - More than 30 species are endemic to this area of sandstone hills and there are many undescribed species including Festuca (Poaceae), Cardenanthus and Mastigostyla (Iridaceae) and  Gomphrena (Amaranthaceae), as well as a few very rare and local endemics, notably Adesmia kieslingii (Leguminosae), Philibertia urceolata (Asclepiadaceae) and Rebutia vasqueziana (Cactaceae). Our most interesting discovery was an apparently new species of Tillandsia (Bromeliaceae).

Raising community awareness of plant conservation needs in each of the four areas      

Opportunities to raise community awareness were taken whenever possible. Important steps included:

  • Visits to the sites in El Palmar and Samaipata with the Park Director to indicate plants of conservation importance;
  • Meeting with the approximately 30 members of the civic committee in Torotoro (with mayor) to present the results of the project;
  • Public meeting in Sucre with representatives of the prefecture and town hall to publicise results related to El Palmar and Chataquila;
  • Meetings with communities in Punilla and Chaunaca, who each “own” a side of Chataquila;
  • Meetings with travel agents and hotels in Sucre, Samaipata and Torotoro to distribute leaflets and publicise results.

Improving taxonomic research capacity of Bolivian botanists, especially in Compositae and Cactaceae

Bolivian botanists participated in all field work during this project and informal training took place at all times. More specific tuition and collaboration took place as follows:

  • Training in the taxonomy of Compositae was given by Nicholas Hind during his visit to Bolivia from February to March 2007. The main beneficiary was Julia Gutierrez (HSB);
  • Training in the taxonomy of Cactaceae was given by Nigel Taylor in November 2006. The main beneficiary was Moises Mendoza (USZ). Others were taught basic taxonomy and collecting methods including Modesto Zarate (BOLV) and Hibert Huaylla (HSB).
Additional activities

The director of the Torotoro Park requested a poster specifically for the site. It was agreed to prepare this using the paintings prepared during the Darwin Initiative project. Delivery of these posters took place in May 2007, after which they were sent to Torotoro for distribution and use in training by the park authorities.


Our success in achieving our objectives led to a series of specific requests for additional conservation-focused technical support in the region. These include:

  • A one-day workshop for representatives of all communities in the Torotoro Park about the importance of its flora and its conservation;
  • A one-day workshop for guides in Sucre, including a tour of the Chataquila area;
  • A one-day workshop for guides in Samaipata, organised by the Samaipata World Heritage Site and Museum;
  • Selection of a bank of named photographs for Torotoro and El Palmar reserves;
  • A workshop/meeting for community representatives in El Palmar Reserve;
  • Preparation of plastic-covered information boards to be placed around the tourist circuit on the Samaipata site.


This work was undertaken with support from the Kew-Rio Tinto Partnership