Fundación de la Conservación y Desarrollo Sostenible: Combating Deforestation in Colombia’s Rainforest  

For millennia, indigenous groups in the area encompassing Colombia have cared for the rich, tropical land of the Amazon. As the lungs of the region, the Amazon is one of the most biodiverse places in the world, with some three million species including 2,500 types of trees. The Amazon supplies the most populated areas of Colombia with water, through its «flying rivers» — the evapotranspiration by the forests, carried by winds. Vibrant biodiversity depends on maintaining connectivity between the Amazon, the Andes, the savannas of the Orinoquia, and the Guayana Shield. In short, life in Colombia without the Amazon would be unlivable.

But these are also the areas most heavily impacted by deforestation, according to Fundación de la Conservación y Desarrollo Sostenible (FCDS). Since 2017, Colombia’s landscape has undergone a terrifying level of deforestation, driven by land grabs, political violence, and territorial appropriation. Once-verdant lands have been turned into areas for cattle ranching and incipient agriculture, including the production of cereals and palm oil. FCDS notes that over 1.2 million new cattle have been installed in 700 thousand ha of deforested areas with over 3,000 km of new roads.

According to FCDS, they are the first initiative in Colombia to link land rights, biodiversity protection, food security and economic development, and peacebuilding in a single process; equally importantly, they claim to be the only initiative present in some of the areas hardest hit by deforestation and armed conflict in Colombia. The organization is combatting rampant deforestation through a collection of mechanisms designed to holistically respond to the Amazon’s problems.

Their multi-pronged process includes a development of the Community Forestry initiative, which supports the transformation of deforested areas into agroforestry, including replanting tropical palms, leguminous trees, and Amazonian fruit trees. This both generates food security for locals and offers a different economic model for working families. FCDS is creating an «agricultural» frontier by prioritizing forest maintenance and supporting the legal creation of various Colombian legislation that prioritizes Protected Areas. They are also developing legal bills that protect local communities through the promotion of land rights and are actively promoting environmental protection in Colombia’s ongoing Peace Policy and negotiations.

photo by FCDS – FCDS is avoiding the expansion of agriculture frontier of commodities over the rainforest.

The initiative is also working to restore deforested and degraded soils that have been used for cattle ranching and coca production, converting them into agroforestry and biological corridors. FCDS is in the first steps of working with non-timber forest products to create markets and drive local economic transformation. To this end, they have given technical attention to a quarter of a million hectares of land and have created forest management zones with over 80 km of connectivity corridors. Finally, FCDS is focusing on education and outreach, by partnering with universities to develop training mechanisms for local people in the sustainable use of forests. They have built a communications and advocacy program that disseminates information nationally and internationally. FCDS is now expanding its initiative in Peru and the borders with Brazil and Venezuela, where threats to the amazon is now growing quickly.

Ambitious in its scope, FCDS has already promoted the creation of the largest protected area in the country, the 4.2-million hectare Chiribiquete National Park, and fostered a political consensus between different parties to advance a policy of protection of the Amazon. The security of the Amazon requires a collaboration between parties and agents nearly as diverse as the forest itself — and FCDS is at the forefront.

photo by FCDS – FCDS is protecting the main untouched rainforest in the Amazon basin, the Chiribiquete National Park.

Learn more about the FCDS.

Protecting the main untouched rainforest in the Amazon basin, the Chiribiquete National Park

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