Our projects in Colombia seek to protect 1.2 million hectares of forest at risk in the departments of Vaupés and Chocó. With a focus on transparent and inclusive processes, we work hand in hand with indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities to improve the wellbeing of thousands of families, and to conserve the region's rich biodiversity.
We have 5 projects in development within one of the world’s most biodiverse countries, Colombia. The projects span two distinct ecoregions: the Amazon and the Pacific Coast.
OF FOREST PROTECTED
AVOIDED PER YEAR
PACIFIC ECOREGION COLOMBIA
THE COMMUNITY PARTNERS
Our 3 projects in the coastal department of Chocó are home to over 50,000 community members, the majority of whom are Afro-Colombian.
Afro-Colombian communities’ territories are mostly concentrated in rural areas, which are also some of the most resource-rich areas of the country. This has led to decades of exploitation and violence from being caught in the crossfire of fierce conflict between armed groups.
Afro-Colombian communities are organized in solid and country-wide recognized community councils (Consejos comunitarios de comuidades negras) through which they govern and exert territorial autonomy and self-determination.
Local communities in the project areas are organized and represented by 11 community councils. These councils are vital in deciding how to use the project revenues they’ve earned from protecting their forests, which is critical to a resilient, self-determined future.
LA NEGRA TAMBORENA
Listen to Yajaira Salazar, an Afro-Colombian poet living at the Bajo Atrato project
DROUGHT IN CHOCÓ
Listen to communities talk about how the dry season affects their daily lives and what sustainable alternatives could be implemented to improve these conditions
Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) meetings are critical to our projects. Communities have the right to decide their own priorities according to their own beliefs, institutions and/or territories they occupy or use.
We seek to build capacities within local communities and exchange scientific and ancestral knowledge to develop location-specific decisions that effectively conserve the forest .
° Saguinus oedipus
The cotton-top tamarin, a small primate which weighs less than a pound, is named for the cotton ball-esque fluff of white hair on its head. Cotton-top tamarins are among the most endangered primates in the world, with only about 6,000 remaining in the wild. This species is endemic to northwestern Colombia, and their tropical forest habitat is being destroyed for cattle ranching, agriculture, and urban development. Cotton-tops are also captured and illegally sold as pets.
° Panthera Onca
Jaguars are the largest cat species in South America, and have great ecological, cultural, and spiritual significance. It is estimated that around 15,000 jaguars remain in Colombia, and about 170,000 jaguars persist in the Americas as a whole. The species once stretched from the southern United States to northern Argentina, but its range has since been halved and the species is extinct in several countries, due to the primary threats of habitat loss, illegal trade, hunting, and climate change.
° Ara ambiguus
GREAT GREEN MACAW
With its bright shades of green, the Great Green Macaw is unlikely to be confused with any other bird. The Great Green Macaw is the third heaviest parrot on our planet, and can live up to 70 years. A social bird, Great Green Macaws live in family groups of around five or six individuals, which patrol small home ranges for fruiting trees where they can feed. Due to habitat loss and the illegal pet trade, this species is considered Critically Endangered by the IUCN.
° Tapirus bairdii
The Baird’s tapir is a large, herbivorous mammal, similar in shape to a pig with a prehensile nose. Baird’s tapirs play a key role in their ecosystems by dispersing seeds, holding symbiotic relationships with cleaner birds (such as the yellow-headed caracara) and providing a key prey source for carnivores such as jaguars. Due to threats of habitat fragmentation and habitat loss, this species is considered Endangered by the IUCN.
Our 3 projects in Chocó span over 500,00 hectares of forest
The tropical rainforests of the Chocó-Darién bioregion on Colombia’s Pacific coast make up one of the world’s top ten biodiversity hotspots. The project areas are rich with endemic species (species which occur nowhere else on the planet) and a variety of valuable ecosystem types such as mangroves, swamps, flooded forests, dry forests, and cloud forests. Threats to the forest mainly include unplanned expansion of the agricultural frontier, cultivation of illicit crops and illegal timber extraction. To help reduce these drivers of deforestation, our project activities include increased forest monitoring and protection, community-based economic alternatives, conservation agriculture and job creation.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) the Mai Ndombe REDD+ project protects 300,000 hectares of tropical rainforest.
In the Amazon Ecoregion of Colombia, we have 3 projects in development protecting 750,000 hectares of forest.
EXPLORE OUR OTHER PROJECTS
More than half of Colombia’s continental surface is covered with natural forests, but over the last six years, the country has lost close to 1 million acres of forests, which is equivalent to roughly 1 million soccer fields. This situation generates a spiral of socio-environmental conflicts that affect the forest community members, local climate and the country’s rich biodiversity.
Deforestation in Colombia is the result of a complex combination of historical and socio-economic factors, but is primarily linked to the rapid expansion of the agricultural frontier. This includes land grabbing for cattle ranching and illegal activities, such as the extraction and exploitation of precious minerals, illicit crops such as coca leaf, and commercial timber.
Some of the underlying causes for this rapid deforestation are the lack of productive and sustainable economic alternatives for local communities, weak regional and local governance structures, insufficient governmental presence and a pervasive and ongoing armed conflict.
Wildlife Works began work in Colombia in 2018 to provide technical assistance in all phases of project implementation of 8 USAID-funded REDD+ projects on Colombia’s pacific coast, commonly known as Portafolio REDD+ Pacífico or Portafolio BioREDD. Soon after, we initiated our own process of project sourcing and development in Colombia.
Projects in the Pacific Coastal Ecoregion (Chocó) include: