Rewilding the radionoosphere of the Bolivian Amazon


Radioelectric field listening
Long droughts
Constant fires
Inadequate state emergency plan
Citizen struggle
Amplified voice and communal action
Disseminating news  to appease the environmental catastrophe
Radios chased
Deliberate fires
Private capital
A collective and self-managed organization

A hum… a hiss… the crackle of burning branches

Radio as a collective body

For the 5th edition of Sonandes: International Sound Art Biennial (2022, Bolivia), artists and collectives from Colombia, Peru and Bolivia were invited to contribute with local field recordings from the Amazon, developing a multi-channel sound installation in the public  space and contributing to the research and radio project from, based in Brazil. 
This project expanded the platform’s studies on Bolivian community radio stations and the role they play in environmental conflicts.
This new proposal focuses on the actions taking place by local community radios organizing the communities against private interests burning the Chaco and the Bolivian Amazon during the long droughts.
The noosphere is a philosophical concept developed and popularized by the biogeochemist Vladimir Vernadsky, and philosopher and Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Vernadsky defined the noosphere as the new state of the biosphere and described as the planetary “sphere of reason”. In parallel the radionoosphere -represented in the title and coined by the authors-, represents the electromagnetic hertziosphere state with the cultural and natural remains of the transmissions refracted and reflected on the earths ionosphere.
Here you can listen the statement of the research as a radiophonic piece:

Radio interviews with 4 local radio journalists, who actively reported during the fires in the Amazon and Bolivian Chaco, helping to build and articulate the social body that mitigated the fires.

In original language and with highlights & quotes in English.

Jesús Yorruri Choma

Radio Gigante 93.1 FM

Born and raised in the community of Roboré, he is a radio journalist and correspondent for Red Uno de Bolivia.
During the 2019 fires he was a correspondent for Radio Cichar 99.7 FM, a radio station that played a central role in community organizing against the fires.

Radio in Roboré – FM Broadcast
Generación Activa – Online Broadcast
Santa Cruz Department – Chiquitos Province
Elevation 261 m.
Population 10.098 hab.


“In winter 2019, a frost falls throughout the Roboré region. Through the ice the vegetation burns and makes it vulnerable to drought. We leave winter and enter the heat of drought. The vegetation remains dry and is a fuel.”
«August and September the first fires begin, they are not given importance until the fire spreads due to the action of the wind and becomes uncontrollable.»
“Volunteer firefighters, government firefighters and citizens organize to fight the fire but they do not provide a solution to the problem, so the government has to intervene. Roboré is declared a disaster area. They send planes but they can’t stop the fire either. Parks, forest reserves and communities are burned.”
“Cichar 99.7 FM radio brings together a group of communities where they have organized to work together between the municipality and the government. Not with a physical presence at the fire but managing to bring medicines and food for those who were working at the scene. “The power to socialize through the radio medium.”
“Communicators are committed to environmental care.”
“Radio has fulfilled the role of articulating with the communities, to date it fulfills the role of articulating many activities that are carried out.”
“Community radio stations in Bolivia and particularly in Roboré fulfill a good function, because it is the medium where the voice of the people who work every day in their community is carried.”

Scale and scope of change

“We see major losses in both humid and dry forests; incredible expansions of pasture and agriculture; and clears shifts in land use driven by economic forces and the way land is managed. There is really nowhere else in the world that compares to the Amazon for the scale and scope of change.”
Matthew Hansen, University of Maryland – Remote sensing scientist who specializes in mapping land cover and land use change.
The maps a mosaic of cloud-free images collected by Landsat 7 and Landsat 8 in 2018, offers a clear view of the entire basin’s land surfaces. The false-color image (bands 5-4-3) incorporates observations of near-infrared and shortwave infrared light that accentuates key differences in vegetation, moisture levels, and other surface features.
Areas strongly affected by human activity also stand out. Forest areas that were converted to pasture generally appear yellow. Savanna converted to cropland is generally pink, especially if fields are fallow or have exposed soil.
University of Maryland Global Forest Change. Accessed September 26, 2019.

Ever Santivañez

Founder of the Movement in Defense of the Tucabaca Valley

Born and raised in the community of Roboré, founder of the Movement in Defense of the Tucabaca Valley founded in 2018 in defense of the municipal forest reserve “El Paquión” which is located in Roboré within the Tucabaca Valley in the Chiquitano Dry Forest. He is a radio broadcaster and during the fires he worked actively at Radio Roboré, informing and organizing his community.

Roboré Radio – Online Broadcast
Radiorobore – Online via Facebook
Santa Cruz Department – Chiquitos Province
Elevation 261 m
Population 10.098 Hab.
“The radio was born as an initiative on my part, we wanted to spread the complaint to people who are outside the country and to people who are in urban areas.”
“We defended that reserve because it was being deforested and settlements for large-scale agriculture were taking place.”
“The expansion of the agricultural frontier by large-scale industrialists and ranchers and the cultural component that sought to settle on the land and then sell it and obviously the geopolitical issue of the government to move votes, everything came together to the misfortune of the environment and our region” .
“We made radio spots on environmental issues.”
“The audience in urban areas of FM and AM radio is losing a little, most people are hooked on the Social Networks phone and we saw that we could get there by migrating traditional radio to internet radio” .
“It was well received, residents from Spain and the United States listened to us and found out what was happening. Our radio has the characteristic of promoting our culture.”
“One of the very advantageous characteristics of internet radio is that we could transmit audio from the communities”
«There came a critical moment when the government was carrying out a great campaign to minimize the fires and say that everything was under control. We had people in the communities who sent the audios. We also formed groups of volunteer firefighters of the movement to escape the structure of the movement a little. Security Committee that was managed by the Armed Forces and that was coercive and prevented information from coming out.”
“We formed a group of volunteer firefighters who gave us first-hand information. This information often arrived by audio, it was important to get it out and on the radio we would upload it to the page or put it as a radio spot and there it would be heard and shared and done through social networks. Above all, to get people out of the communities and into the urban areas and into the interior of the country, that was the value that this radio had.”
“They sent us their GPS coordinates and we also published them on the website. On the website we could add the audio and geolocation of where the fires were, photographs and videos as well.”

PM10 & Aerosols

The burning of fuels expels polluting microparticles (PM2.5-PM10) into the atmosphere that have a great capacity to penetrate the respiratory tract.
Human activities produce significant quantities of particles, mainly in sectors such as transportation (maritime and air traffic); energy production by fossil fuel (coal, oil and gas) power plants; commercial and residential combustion sources (cooking and heating); industrial activities and the burning of biomass (forest fires or burning of pastures and agricultural waste). In the following graphs we can see the impact of the concentration of suspended particles in the atmosphere on the left and the concentration of aerosols produced by the burning of biomass in 2019.


María del Rosario Flores

Radio Jireh 102.5 FM

She is part of the Macharetí community, she is a radio journalist and owner of Radio Jireh. She has been reporting on fires since 2019.

Comunidad Machareti – FM Broadcast
Radiojirehmachareti – Online via Facebook
Chuquisaca Department
Luis Calvo Province
Elevation 700 m.
Población 7.418 hab.
“The important role of a radio is to inform, search and contribute to information. “Seek links between the authorities so that they can be part.”
“We try to train people about these fires, the environmental impact to the extent and possibilities that we have.”
“We are the voice of the people, of the communities.”
“This radio reaches the communities through the radio page, since many use Facebook. Radio waves reach 30 km around.”
«It is so important to have a media that shows the reality from the communities.»
“We are the two of us, a married couple who are dedicated to doing this type of work. It is our hobby without receiving any type of salary. We do it because we believe that it is necessary for our municipality to be known nationally and internationally, with the problems we have here.”
“If a media outlet does not denounce or report what is happening, the truth is that no one pays attention to anything. Radio is such an important medium that with a complaint the authorities immediately come down.”
“Sometimes they threaten us because we complain. People tell us: we are the voice of the communities and that is what we are here for. We are not here to favor the government party or anyone, we are simply giving that opportunity to the people of the communities, to the people who really need to be heard and for their requests to reach the authorities.”
“We have received a threat because we were reporting that a well was paralyzed by the Government, that the officials who were working on that well (…) a community 80 or 60 kilometers from here from the town of Macharetí and released that information at the page level through social networks. The next day the government was punctually with all its people working and they called the radio threateningly.”
“If the community leaders call and say that they are not doing a good job, the government covers them.”
“We do not favor any political party, we are simply a family business radio station that we have started and the only vision we have is that the Guaraní indigenous peasant communities are heard. But always with the risk that the other authorities do not like the crimes they commit and threaten to come to light.”
“Thanks to the means of communication we have, the departmental authorities try to quickly solve the municipality’s problems. We enter as the supervisory party but we look for the information.»

The Spread of Soy in South America

Satellite mapping shows a significant expansion of croplands during the past two decades. While most regions of the world saw modest increases in the area dedicated to cropland -which mirrored increases in population- one region that stood out was South America. With its cultivated land area nearly doubling between 2000 and 2019, the continent had the largest relative increase in cropland in the world.
“With only a modest population increase during that time period and a large expansion of cropland, it was also the only large region that saw a per capita increase in cropland area”
This was mainly due to rapid expansion of farmland in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, and Uruguay. The area cultivated for soybeans in doubled in the past two decades.  Soybean fields in the Brazilian Amazon increased more than tenfold over the two decades. About 32% of the new fields were planted among primary tropical rainforests, often in areas that had first been cleared for cattle pastures.
“In South America, we’re not generally seeing an expansion of farmland due to subsistence farming,” said Xiaopeng Song, a GLAD researcher. “It is mostly large-scale growers who are raising soy for animal feed to meet the increasing demand for meat in China and Europe.”
NASA Earth Observatory image by Lauren Dauphin, using data from Potapov, Peter, et al. (2022)

Marco Antonio Casiano Ramón

Radio Santa Cruz – IRFA Foundation

He is a radio broadcaster with more than 10 years of experience.

Lives and works in the Charagua Iyambae Autonomy in the Bolivian Gran Chaco.

He covered the fires since 2019.

Radio Santa Cruz – FM Broadcast
Santa Cruz Department


Although this radio station is private, we are its officials, we emerge from the organizations. The person speaking to you was accompanying the organizations of this region for almost 5 years and thus saw the need to have a means of communication at the regional level. Indeed we consumed content from this media but from Santa Cruz de la Sierra.
The radio is beginning to build its own identity at a regional level because we identify with the people, with both rural and urban social organizations. And we generate streams of opinions with local, national and international content.
We have contributed through communication to the importance of our land, our territory, our forest and the care of the environment. When we found ourselves without the opportunity to fight the fire through the radio we have reflected and today those actions have been materialized. Many have worked and have focused on international organizations such as Non-Governmental Organizations in tasks of generating training and training of volunteer firefighters, equipment.
From the field we have shown the great need that exists.
How badly can a development be planned from a desk at the seat of government, when that development plan is in contradiction of the same people in the same region, when they go against the conservation of local development policies.
We believe that we have contributed to redirecting and making our authorities reflect on the public policies that have to be built on environmental matters, social issues, and cultural issues from the region.
Radio fulfills a function beyond informing and educating. We are promoters of our cultural identity. I am an activist in my mother tongue. The fact that I am here in this media and the fact that I am from the place gives me a certain authority to speak and say appropriately what the approach and direction we should take regarding cultural resistance.
Until recently there was talk that our cultural identity was at risk, we see that we are already beginning to awaken our young people and older people, who believed that it was useless or vain to conserve our culture.

Forest fires in the Amazon blacken the sun in São Paulo

In the middle of the afternoon on August 19th South America’s largest city went dark. Under a thick, black cloud at 3pm, the lights flickered on in São Paulo’s skyscrapers; on the motorways brake lights started to glow in the city’s bumper-to-bumper traffic, and many Paulistanos were worried. Social-media users posted pictures of the gloom, juxtaposing the dystopian afternoon sky with fictional apocalyptic places such as Gotham City from “Batman”.
Collaboration carried out with contributions from Jesús Yorruri Choma from Radio Gigante 93.1 FM, Ever Santivañez from Radio Roboré, María del Rosario Flores from Radio Jireh 102.5 FM and Marco Antonio Casiano Ramón from Radio Santa Cruz, Colectivo La Fuga, among other communities and field recordings.
Research, production and composition carried out by 2023 (Guely Morató and Víctor Mazón Gardoqui) for Listening to the World-100 years of radio, launched at Bauhaus-Universität Weimar and presented at Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) in Berlin 2023.
Listening to the World—100 Years of Radio is a project of the Goethe-Institut, the Experimental Radio at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, Deutschlandfunk Kultur, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt. It is supported by the Goethe-Institut as well as through the project New European Bauhaus of the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar. The development of the Transcultural Listening Map is supported by the Creative Fund of the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar.
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