Bolivian President Evo Morales signed a law on Tuesday that forbids the construction of a new road through the Amazon Rainforest. The road was seen as a threat to the ecosystem of one of Bolivia’s more popular national parks and a tribe of indigenous people that live there.
The new road was to be funded by Brazil and would have been approximately 177 km (109 miles) in length. But the Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Bolivia, and a number of environmental groups spoke, out against the plans, and as a result, Bolivia’s Legislative Assembly created a law halting construction on the project. The road would have passed through the Isiboro Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory, but Morales’ signature ensures that will never happen.
This story is similar to the plans to build a road across the Serengeti in Tanzania, which drew heavy criticism from conservationists and scientists alike. The government in that country said the route was necessary to promote economic development, but it was also seen as a major threat to the wildlife as well. Eventually the plans were abandoned in order to leave the Serengeti’s ecosystem intact, but unlike Bolivia, it took months for the Tanzanian government to change their plans.
The road through the Amazon would have likely brought an economic boost to Bolivia as well, and that country could sure use one. But the government there recognized the value of their natural resources and didn’t want to do anything to put those resources, or their people in danger. As a result, they made the hard, but correct, choice to resist the easy money in favor of protecting their environment for the future.