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Universidad Autónoma de Madrid

Geographical research in an Andean protected area

Study case of Cotapata National Park and Natural Area of Integrated Management (Bolivia)

Miguel Sevilla-Callejo | Department of Geography, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain



Cotapata National Park and Natural Area of Integrated Management is located on the eastern valleys of the Cordillera Real at the Bolivian Andes, close to the La Paz-El Alto conurbation. It has an area of almost 900 sq Km, an altitudinal variation of nearly 4.500 m. It brings together a wide range of natural environments and different livelihoods and in the last two decades the construction of a new road and the establishment of a protected area have resulted in major tensions within this territory.

3D view of the south-eastern part of the Cordillera Real with the Cotapata Protected Area

Cotapata Protected Area localization

Our research in this protected area is based on the assumption that, in the past two decades, the rupture of established patterns of territorial organization is causing the collapse of environmental and socioeconomic sustainability. Following this hypothesis the objective is to analyze the territorial conflicts by integrating physical, environmental, social, and economic components within the specific historical context of the area.

Details of the synthesis map of vegetation, land use and land cover of the protected area and surrounding

syntesis maps composition

The research combines fieldwork data, documentation from historical archives and existing, very limited work on the area with remote sensing and geographical information systems techniques. The final analysis and the preliminary results fall within four thematic areas: (1) physical and environmental characterization; (2) the spatial distribution of land use and land cover; (3) accessibility modeling; and (4) land tenure and peasantry organization.

Brief presentation about the research

Paper presented to "Latin Americanists in Wales - JISLAC Workshop Regional Seminar" - Nov. 2009

pdf Download a PDF copy of the presentation - 4.96 Mbs

Localization over Google maps

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Latin America, Bolivia, Cotapata Protected Area, Land Use, Land Tenure, Accessibility, Peasantry.

Innovation, Development and Research Projects

Agrarian transformations and Natural Resources Management in Latin America
I+R+D Project of Spanish Main Department of Research. Ref. BSO2001-075. January 2001 - December 2004

The subregional territoriality of the public policies. Analysis of speeches and experiences
I+R+D Project of Spanish Main Department of Research. Ref. BSO2001-0256. January 2001 - December 2004

Land Use, Nature Conservation and Rural Development in Bolivian Protected Areas. Cases Studies: Sajama and Cotapata National Parks.
UAM-SCH Research Project for Latin American Cooperation coordinated by Latin American Research Center of Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. January 2005 - December 2006


Spanish Main Department of Research - Ministry of Education and Science (Spain) | January 2001 - August 2006

Centro de Estudios de América Latina de la Universidad Autónoma de Madrid - Banco Santander Central Hispano | January 2005 - December 2006

More information

If you want more information about us you can send an email to miguel.sevilla[at]

Miguel Sevilla Callejo - Departamento de Geografía - UAM