In 2015 we began our expansion into Colombia, where great opportunities exist to support the regional environmental authorities in protecting the country’s incredible biodiversity. With the assistance of NCI’s funding and support, four new reserves spanning 173,162 acres of tropical mountain and cloud forest were declared in Antioquia and Nariño.
Two of the reserves declared in Antioquia, the Melcócho-Santo Domingo Reserve (65,538 acres) and Tigre-Calón-La Osa Reserve (76,224 acres), total nearly 150,000 acres and protect rich Andean cloud forests home to stunning biodiversity, including the Silvery-brown Bare-face Tamarin – a species of monkey found in no other region of the world. NCI’s partnership with CORNARE, the regional environmental authority, has enabled them to more than double the number of acres protected by regional reserves in southern Antioquia. These reserves also protect the headwaters of the Samaná River, ensuring a clean and steady water supply for the local people of four municipalities.
The third protected area declared in Antioquia, the Las Alegrías Regional Reserve (24,000 acres), was declared by the region’s second environmental authority, Corantioquia. Las Alegrías protects key forests that play an integral role in providing water to the nearby city of Medellín, the second-largest city in Colombia after Bogotá.
Moving to the west, NCI’s funding resulted in the declaration of the Paja Blanca Regional Reserve, protecting 7,400 acres in the region of Nariño, which borders both Ecuador and the Pacific Ocean. CorpoNariño, the regional environmental authority, was NCI’s first partnership established in Colombia.
NCI is continuing to partner with a number of regional environmental authorities in Colombia to support the creation of new protected areas. Major opportunities exist to achieve such declarations, as there is a mandate by the national government to designate regional reserve systems and mining exclusion zones. Although these regional authorities receive funding from the national government, additional funds are needed to create strong reserve systems and ensure their ongoing management. NCI is filling this gap by providing matching funds to speed the declaration of protected areas while there is still time, and is currently facilitating the creation of an additional reserves in Antioquia and Nariño, with more to come.