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Striking photo of lone tree is stark warning about Bolivia’s future

A TREE stands alone on land now ready for planting soya seeds, near Santa Cruz, Bolivia (pictured above). It is a symbol of the country’s growing deforestation crisis.

These are among the striking images by photographer Matjaž Krivic, working with Maja Prijatelj Videmšek, a journalist for the Slovenian newspaper Delo. The pair’s Terraforming project shows how Bolivia’s tropical forests are being destroyed at a rate surpassed only by Brazil and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. From 1976 to 2021, Bolivia lost 14 per cent of its forests.

The driving force behind this deforestation is the cultivation of soya and expansion of cattle ranching. The latter is shown in three of the small images of ranchers and cattle at different ranches in eastern Bolivia.

Some 80 per cent of cattle are for domestic consumption; the rest are exported. By 2025, the state plans to double herds to 22 million animals and to triple cultivated land to 13 million hectares.

This is fuelled by domestic and foreign companies, settlers from the mountainous regions, and the Mennonites – ultra-conservative Christians who arrived in the 1950s. The tractor driver (pictured above) is a Mennonite minister at Santa Anita colony, eastern Bolivia.

Laws are fostering the expansion by offering cheap land and heavily subsidised fuel, which encourage small developments (such as the grain silos, pictured above).

Brazil has destroyed over 18 per cent of its rainforests. Unless Bolivia pulls back from pushing cheap land for agriculture, it will follow suit – and there will be more tragic trees to photograph.

Shown above are the smoking lines of burnt trees in San Rafael.

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