Languages: Deutsch | Englisch | Spanisch | 

Fascination of primeval forest

For a large picture: Move the mouse across or click

Preview: Orchid in the jungle
Orchid in the jungle

Orchid in the jungle

Preview: Patuju (heliconia rostrata)
Patuju (heliconia rostrata)

Patuju (heliconia rostrata)

Creek in primeval forest

On a flight in the year 1995 over the Argentinean province Misiónes, over extensive cleared areas and large wood plantations of eucalyptus, suddenly in the vicinity of the waterfalls of Iguazú a preserved piece of jungle emerged. The view was ravishing and unlike all previously seen. For the undulating forest, whose thick roof of crowns looked from above like luxuriously growing moss, was not green, as one would expect, but rather blossomed in a variety of colors. The view fascinated me, but in the same moment made me become aware of what had vanished already and that there was only very little remaining. I believed then to have found my task in life in that I planned - at first perhaps somewhat naively - to buy myself a larger piece of similar forest somewhere and to protect it as my small contribution to nature conservation.

At the time I knew it was still possible to buy land in South America even as a foreigner, but I did not know under which circumstances and with what consequences. What I did not expect was that buying land in South America was very different than engaging in such a transaction in Europe. It is much easier to get suitable land in Boliva, but the purchase contract is only the first step in the battle to become the legal owner, and tenure does not guarantee the land's safeguarded protection.

I chose to buy land in Bolivia when it became obvious that in Argentina no more forest was being sold. The only land offered there had been a few hectares with undergrowth for excessive prices.

Preserving primeval forest in Bolivia

Bolivia seemed at first of ideally suited because I encountered compatriots who owned land already and told me that I could purchase land at low prices without any problems. They said that there were numerous owners who had lived a couple of decades on a piece of land and now would rather have a couple of thousand dollars, so that they could live in the city, glad to get rid of their sometimes large areas. The idea was that this would deprive no one of anything and would even lead the people selling the land out of their miserable life. Moreover, one could build oneself a homestead amidst a natural paradise. All of this is true, but one has to be very careful at the same time. Instead of being wary, I got together with a German friend who had been living there for a number of years, who had promised heaven and earth, and whom I had known as a reliable and impressive partner in joint enterprises in Bolivia. I offered him a share of the land, if he would do the purchasing transactions while I was getting the money together at home. What I did not guess,was that he played a role, and to be sure he did it outstandingly, but only as long as he had the arranged sum of money in his hands.

Instead of bringing the joint land purchase to conclusion, after a year neither land nor money remained and my first attempt to conserve a piece of original forest had failed, resulting in a big loss. Because I do not know whether this person acted intentionally or was a dabbler and had been cheated himself, I will not name him. In any case he had concealed many things and had played with "loaded dice". We had even visited the land supposedly bought by him, but I had not wanted to admit to myself that nowadays you cannot buy such desirable land for such relatively little money and be sure of it as a safeguarded property. Problems may arise, but in the present case, everything had been wrong from the start and destined for failure. I did not know this at the time, because I trusted my allegedly experienced warrantor.

Therefore, the first lesson is that all of the necessary information has to be investigated beforehand. Do not to believe the advice of any individual person, do everything independently, and supervise everything. Also, as when playing chess,  anticipate several possible moves in advance. If you are not congenitally paranoid, it is not easy to consider all this all of the time. But nothing is as easy in Bolivia as losing your money in interesting joint ventures. Usually those involved are not Bolivian people. With those of them with whom we do cooperate, we have sustainable and trusting relationships.

The majority of people from the tropical eastern Bolivia are kind and friendly, but their concepts of what is right and dependability appear at times somewhat more flexible than what we are used to. Controversies that arise in deals with new contacts are often about petty things, like unkept promises for which an small advance payment has been given, dissatisfaction with how a job has been done, and so on. At any rate, interactions with Bolivian people are never as dramatic as partnership with certain Europeans.

 To the top