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watershed conservation in colombia
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why colombia?

Colombia is one of the world’s “megadiverse” countries, hosting close to 10% of the planet’s biodiversity. With 314 types of ecosystems, Colombia possesses rich ecological, climatic and biological complexity. 

Colombia’s cloud forest ecosystems contain extraordinary biodiversity, including some of the world’s rarest and most endangered species. For its size, it supports record numbers of birds, frogs, reptiles, butterflies and plants. These cloud forests also supply irrigation and drinking water to millions of people. They act as a giant sponge, absorbing moisture and trapping up to 40% of their weight in water. In Colombia, roughly 70% of the water is delivered by the 2% of landscape that is páramo. Páramo is the miracle that delivers water straight to the users, and this valuable resource, along with other Andean forests, will only exist if they are protected. Sadly, unsustainable land use is leading to the degradation of critical habitats, worsened water quality, disrupted seasonal water flows and an acceleration of species loss.

the time is now

Rare wants to make real change in the Andean landscape working with and for people in the region

  • Protecting cloud forests and páramos helps ensure the regular availability of clean drinking water for over 38 million Colombians.
  • In the Colombian watersheds, natural disasters occur: extreme droughts, floods and landslides destroy thousands of hectares in both urban and rural areas. In these cases, local water plants can struggle to provide water, affecting the agriculture sector with major losses in crops, livestock, as well as the population at large. Rare’s approach to conservation, which is community-centered and engages local communities to participate in decision-making and solution-finding, especially around sustainable land-use and conservation, is key in rebuilding the social fabric within communities, as well as trust and engagement with in public entities. The resulting community cohesion and decision-making structures are critical when dealing with extreme weather events.

how we will succeed

Rare aims to ensure cleaner and more reliable water for Colombians through national adoption of our watershed management solutions. These can deliver towards national conservation and climate adaptation goals as well as provide benefits for water flow and quality.

Rare’s goal is to inspire communities in Colombia’s most water dependent geographies to adopt management of their entire watershed ecosystems so that they benefit from higher water quality and flow.

power in partnerships

Rare has built a strong and diverse network of partners in Colombia, including local and international entities like Fundación Natura and Proaves, and The Nature Conservancy. Rare’s diverse network of partners, including corporaciones like Corpoguavio, Corporación Autónoma Regional del Valle del Cauca (CVC), water utilities such as EMCALI and Aguas de Buga, as well as strategic partners in the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture, provide invaluable strategic and technical support.

Additionally, Rare establishes partnerships with entities and scientists in fields such as hydrology modeling, innovative financing and sustainable markets. Rare is an investor partner in the 20 x 20 Latin America forest restoration initiative, and has had its work highlighted in 20 x 20 presentations at the climate COPs in Lima Peru (December 2014) and Paris, France (December 2015).

The biggest challenge was restoring trust in the institutions. However, being able to see a CVC staff member implementing the project, planning with the community and socializing the results, allowed the community to trust us and share their life projects."

Monica Rivera, Rare local leader in Colombia
watershed management results
34 pride campaigns to protect watersheds
pride campaigns to protect watersheds
483 landowners have signed contracts to conserve habitat
landowners have signed contracts to conserve habitat
10,344 hectares now protected voluntarily by local landowners
hectares now protected voluntarily by local landowners

what's working

Rare’s Watershed Program engages communities to participate in decision-making and in finding solutions, especially around sustainable land-use and water conservation. Unlike national policy approaches for top-down “payments for ecosystem services,” Rare’s approach strengthens capacity and engagement at the local scale toward the adoption of sustainable land and water management, and toward fostering social norms that promote reciprocity. A critical element is constituency understanding and support for the outcomes: change that makes measurable and lasting benefit for both people and nature. Read more >

connect with the colombia team

Calle 86A # 13-42,
Oficina 201 Bogotá D.C. Colombia
T +57 1 6314870
T +57 1 6314871