Resilient Landscapes in the Chiquitania, Santa Cruz



Funders: European Union (EU) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) in the framework of its PROCUENCA program.

Partner: SCZ Gobierno Autonomo Departamental Santa Cruz

Key thematic areas

Environmental degradation, deforestation, vulnerability to climate change and the shift to sustainable agriculture will be addressed through a three-tiered approach: (i) to improve water security within vulnerable and threatened ecosystems; (ii) to boost community livelihoods and make them more climate resilient; and (iii) to prevent the loss of biodiversity and the further degradation of forests, savannas and rivers to maintain vital ecosystem services through pilot projects.

General objective

The Resilient Landscapes in the Chiquitania (Santa Cruz) Project supports key actors at local and regional levels to successfully promote and implement transformative policies that will improve water security as well as integrated and sustainable landscape management. As a result, the project contributes to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 5, 6, 12, 13, 15 and 17 and to the water, forest and agriculture targets set out in Bolivia’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

Specific objectives

  • to improve water security for 70,000 people in vulnerable communities in the Chiquitania
  • to promote territorial plans that address climate change and contribute to the NDCs related to water, forest and agriculture at the watershed level
  • to assist 300 key actors in various sectors by strenghtening their capacities for climate change adaptation, water security as well as integrated and sustainable landscape management
  • to implement digital information systems for improved decision making
  • to manage 20,000 hectares of land sustainably through five pilot projects
  • to develop and test a financial mechanism for their financing.


Pressure on already scarce surface and groundwater resources is increasing due to population growth – especially outside the metropolitan area of Santa Cruz – unsustainable agricultural and livestock practices, deforestation, forest fires and inadequate human infrastructure planning. Forest degradation is of particular concern, as forested areas play a crucial role in climate change mitigation, adaptation and water recharge, while being home to great biodiversity. Socioeconomic problems are on the rise, with emerging conflicts between local actors. Indigenous Peoples are increasingly vulnerable to the effects of climate change as they depend on forests and the water that these areas generate for the sustainment of livelihoods. These communities have little capacity to cope with food insecurity and economic instability.


To improve water security for 120,000 people in vulnerable communities in the forested Santa Cruz region of the Bolivian lowlands, making livelihoods more resilient to climate change; and to conserve and restore key ecosystems in the region.


The department of Santa Cruz is part of the Amazon basin and comprises a large part of Bolivia’s lowland forests. It is home to numerous Indigenous communities and smallholder farmers who are highly vulnerable to poverty and climate-related risks. The department contains 78% of Bolivia’s biodiversity and supports 70% of the country’s agricultural production. The Chiquitania, in the department’s eastern lowlands, is a medium-sized river watershed threatened by the rapid advance of the agricultural frontier, cattle ranching and the rapid growth of soybean crops. It is home to the world’s largest preserved tropical dry forest, the Chiquitano Dry Forest, which comprises a mosaic of landscapes ranging from pampas, woodland and biodiverse forest. It also includes Amazonian forest in the lower parts of the watershed. The upper part of the Pirai River is a key point for biodiversity as well as fruit and vegetable production. The lower watershed is characterized by increased agriculture, especially monoculture and livestock production. The river basin is an important basin that supplies groundwater to the city of Santa Cruz.


The project addresses environmental and social issues through an integrated and multi-level perspective based on integrated and sustainable landscape management. It also focuses on water security – through water resource management – sustainable agricultural and livestock practices, the restoration of high-value conservation areas as well as the protection of habitats and their biodiversity. 

Integrated landscape management: 

Integrated landscape management is the balance between the human environment (socioeconomic and cultural) and the natural environment (biophysical). 

A main tool of integrated landscape management is the knowledge and recognition of our watershed and territory in order to understand the interaction between human activities and the dynamics of nature. From this, different territories (landscape units) can be delimited to define (i) sustainable production zones, (ii) biodiversity conservation, and (iii) life-system restoration. This outlines the best way to live together in our watershed. 

Water security:

Water security is the ability to access unpolluted water in sufficient quantities to ensure a good quality of life and adequate use for the development of living beings.

Therefore, it is important that we implement action to protect the ecosystems that provide our water and are key to our well-being and development.

Without a healthy ecosystem, no human activity is viable.

Specific actions

The project:

  • helps key stakeholders to successfully implement and promote transformative policies for water security and sustainable integrated landscape management
  • promotes good governance to improve inter-agency management processes for water security planning and resilient landscapes
  • supports NDCs at the sub-national level, facilitating access to climate finance
  • implements and improves existing information systems at the departmental level to support decision making at the watershed level 
  • improves stakeholder capacities for climate-sensitive water resources management in various sectors
  • promotes intercultural and gender-equity approaches. 

To improve the sustainability of activities, possible funding mechanisms will be explored and partnerships with the private sector will be facilitated, promoting environmental management and developing sustainable supply chains.


Dr. Miriam Seemann

Further information