The Aquicuana Reserve is home to two communities, who have been living in the Reserve for several decades. Both communities have a democratic election system for electing their community Presidents. Their main source of income is agriculture and fishing.
The community of Warnes was founded on June 16, 1957 by farmers who arrived at the Reserve with the desire to live in a small community. They chose this location because the close proximity to the lake allowed them to access water and fish for food.
Most of the Warnes communities are of native Tacana decent. Daily life includes fishing, breeding and harvesting brazil nuts. During the wet season (June–August) the fields are harvested and during the dry season (October–April) the inhabitants take advantage of the absence of rains to prepare the land.
Warnes is located at the entrance of Aquicuana Reserve. Sustainable Bolivia is working closely with them to support community projects.
- In 2018, a checkpoint with a toll of 2Bs ($0.30) was set up to monitor activity within the reserve and prohibit unregulated fishing and hunting. The revenue goes to the family and to support community projects.
- In April 2019, Warnes community and the non-profit Sustainable Bolivia built a multi-functional community center, tourist office and restaurant. Communities members were involved in the construction process, using a combination of traditional and modern techniques. Most of the materials was locally and sustainable sourced.
- The purpose of the cabin is to provide a year round benefit to the community, diversifying family revenue streams; and supporting joint community projects.
- The center would also serve as demonstration site for sustainable technologies, a space to sell local handicrafts and to provide information regarding the flora/fauna of the reserve.
“With few opportunities for work, the women of the community sustain their families by selling food to the traffic that passes through Warnes. This is why it is so necessary and urgent to build a community kitchen.”
Isaiah Álvarez Roca, President of Warnes
The community of San José represents a 49,421 acre wildlife preserve. It has a primary school which was created in 1982 and currently receives 28 children. For secondary school, the children travel to the town of Warnes.
The community has no running water or electricity, this lowers the general health and well-being of its inhabitants. Inhabitants relie on subsistence farming with some income coming from work found in the nearby city of Riberalta. They cultivate rice, banana and yucca crops. As for healthcare, the community does not have a dispensary however a doctor visits from Riberalta every two weeks.
The community of San Jose is standing at a pivotal point in time right now. Although economic pressures along with a lack of running water and electricity have left the community behind in many ways, there is tremendous potential for San Jose.
- Through the creation of Aquicuana Reserve, San Jose is able to explore environmentally sound and low impact methods of obtaining revenue through eco-tourism and cultural preservation. The designation of a protected area introduce the right of control to all illegal passages fo hunters and fisherman.
- Hand in hand, San Jose community and Sustainable Bolivia have the project to bring running water and electricity to the community.
- These projects will create economic opportunities for the village as well as have long lasting positive impacts for the environment, the people, and all of those involved.
In 1975, 15 families decided to settle near the lake for rubber production, this date marks the community’s founding.
At the time the rubber company “Casa Suarez” was widely present and employed many people. However rubber production largely ended after the British Empire established rubber plantations in its colonies and started producing latex at a cheaper price.
From this point on it was no longer economical to extract and sell rubber from the Amazon; large numbers of people became unemployed and consequently emigrated to other cities and towns.
Despite this turmoil and change the San José community remained in the area and shifted their economy to growing Brazil nuts and other forms of agriculture, today 150 people (27 families) live in the community.