Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Beni Savanna, Bolivia

Beni Savanna, Bolivia

WLT is working in partnership with Bolivian NGO Asociación Armonía to protect the Beni Savanna in the south western corner of the Amazon basin by extending the existing Barba Azul Nature Reserve.

The Barba Azul Nature Reserve was established in 2008. It is the only site in the world with large groups of Blue-throated Macaws and home to several other species endemic to this area of Bolivia.

Find out how WLT is saving Beni Savanna in Bolivia.

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Project Aim

In collaboration with project partner Asociación Armonía, WLT aims to extend the area of savanna grassland by expanding the Barba Azul Nature Reserve.


Asociación Armonía

How WLT is helping

The Barba Azul Nature Reserve in the grasslands of northern Bolivia was created in 2008 by Asociación Armonía with help from World Land Trust-US (WLT-US) and American Bird Conservancy (ABC).

Today the reserve covers 11,555 acres (4,676 hectares). It is the world's first protected area for the Blue-throated Macaw, a critically endangered species with a population estimated at just 350 birds. The reserve’s grassland habitat also protects other species including Jaguar, Puma and Maned Wolf.

Following a site visit by WLT to Bolivia in 2012, it became clear that another 15,711 acres (6,358 hectares) of ranch land adjacent to Barba Azul could be purchased to further extend the nature reserve.

WLT’s land purchase in Bolivia’s Beni savanna 2013 was made in association with WLT-US, American Bird Conservancy and IUCN-Netherlands. The Loro Parque Fundación provided logistical support.

Funding needed

This project was funded by WLT’s Buy an Acre fund from 2013. Funds were used to purchase land adjacent to the existing nature reserve in order to protect threatened habitats.

WLT continues to support conservation in Barba Azul Nature Reserve by funding a wildlife ranger through the Trust’s Keepers of the Wild programme.

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Blue-throated Macaw
Blue-throated Macaw, a critically endangered species with a population estimated at just 350 birds, relies on Beni savanna. © Joe Tobias.

Biodiversity of the Beni Savanna

The Beni Savanna ecoregion is crossed by three major rivers, which flow into the Madeira River, the major southern tributary of the Amazon.

The Beni Savanna contains five distinctive habitats: savanna, treed savanna (Cerrado), forest islands, gallery forests and marsh wetlands.

The region is subject to flooding due to seasonal rainfall combined with melt water from the Andes, and it is this cycle of inundation that creates the ecoregion’s distinctive mosaic of forested islands.

The critically endangered Blue-throated Macaw depends on the forest islands: it feeds primarily on the nuts of Motacu palm (Attalea phalerata), and the tree also provides nesting cavities.


Maned Wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus), Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), Pampas Deer (Ozotoceros bezoarticus), Southern Tamandua (Tamandua tetradactyla), Black Howler Monkey (Alouatta nigerrima), Jaguar (Panthera onca), Puma (Puma concolor), and Capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris)


Blue throated Macaw (Ara glaucogularis), White-bellied Nothuras (Nothura boraquira), Greater Rheas (Rhea americana), Southern Screamers (Chauna torquata), Plumbeous Ibis (Theristicus caerulescens), Crowned Eagles (Harpyhaliaetus coronatus), Long-tailed Ground Doves (Uropelia campestris), Golden-collared Macaws (Ara auricollis), Monk Parakeets (Myiopsitta monachus), and Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia)

Threats to the Beni Savanna

For centuries the Beni Savanna has suffered from logging and cattle ranching. The grasslands have been depleted by overgrazing and regular burning. Agribusiness has ‘enriched’ the savanna with non-native grassland species and the likely expansion of industrial farming for biofuel is another threat.

Forest island, Barba Azul Nature Reserve
Forest islands in Barba Azul Nature Reserve are found in higher ground and make up c15% of the reserve. The islands are dominated by palms, Attalea phalerata, which provide food and nesting cavities for the Blue-throated Macaw.

The reserve

Barba Azul

In 2008 World Land Trust-US (WLT-US) and American Bird Conservancy (ABC) helped Asociación Armonía to buy an 8,785 acre ranch (3,555 hectares) to create the Barba Azul Nature Reserve in the grasslands of northern Bolivia.

In 2010 Armonía extended the reserve by acquiring a second ranch, also with help from WLT-US and ABC. Today the Barba Azul reserve, which includes the river between the ranches, covers 11,555 acres (4,676 hectares).

Barba Azul Nature Reserve is now a focal point for research into the Blue-throated Macaw. The addition of another 15,711 acres (6,358 hectares) to the reserve is an exciting prospect, and the extra land will greatly improve the chances that this critically endangered species will survive and thrive.

Location of the Beni Savanna in Bolivia »

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