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Forest management in Bolivia under Evo Morales : the challenges of post-neoliberalism

Based on a study of the forest sector in the northern Amazon region of Bolivia, this paper addresses the reasons why the Bolivian so-called “postneoliberal” project is an adjustment of neoliberalism rather than a departure from it.
First, Bolivia has aimed not so much at breaking away radically from neoliberal frameworks as at reasserting the importance of the state and of the national scale in regulatory actions. Second, the neoliberal period has left behind the insuperable legacy of a neoliberal approach to nature : by allowing local stakeholders to access forest resources, it has reinforced a commercial relationship with the non-human world. Third, it is not easy to reverse the internationalization of forest governance. All in all, the Bolivian state’s reterritorialization of the country’s margins through the control of forest resources has perpetuated processes that were initiated during the hybrid neoliberal period (1993–2005), though the focus has shifted from commoditizing the forest for the benefit of local stakeholders to facilitating the redistribution of this resource on a national scale. Since 2006 Evo Morales’s forest governance has tried to integrate this multiscale dimension to create a pragmatic management model that combines agrarian colonization, conservation and extractivism. This explains both the apparent contradictions of the new Bolivian forest policy and the difficulties in creating a radically new form of governance. The case of Bolivian forests shows the extent to which neoliberalism has shaped spaces and scales in a way that guarantees its own resilience.

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