Our work in Colombia

A view of La Cocha lagoon, La Cocha, nr Pasto, Colombia rel=
A view of La Cocha lagoon, La Cocha, nr Pasto, Colombia
© WWF / Edward PARKER

More than 20 years of conservation action

In 1964, WWF began supporting the conservation actions in Colombia. In 1993, it was consolidated as WWF Colombia Program Office.

Practical, results-oriented

Through various field projects, WWF is committed to the preservation of biodiversity in priority areas, by finding alternatives and solutions to problems so that local communities and future generations can live in harmony with nature.

WWF develops strategies to ensure long term sustainability of conservation actions, that include working with environmental authorities in policy development; strengthening of civil society through environmental education, capacity building and communications; and by developing an up-to-date information analysis system such as the Geographical Information System (GIS).

Focusing on key Global 200 ecoregions

The Program mainly focuses its work in Choco-Darien Moist Forests, Northern Andes ecoregions and more recently in the Llanos Savannas. 

WWF ensures that participative planning in use and proper management of resources is done by the various communities to secure long-term sustainability of these areas.

For example, in the area of forest management, WWF Colombia provides support to local communities. It encourages them to take part in the certification process in those ecoregions.  It is also involved in lobbying the largest forest companies to work to the standards of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

Regarding environmental policies, WWF Colombia has touched many important  milestones and achievements by setting up protected areas, wetlands, and by assessing environmental impacts of infrastructure projects.
In 1964, WWF began its work in Colombia by supporting conservation action in specific regional projects. Later, in 1993, a Program Office was established which focussed its work in the North Andes and Chocó - Darién ecoregions alongwith the Orinoco and Amazon river basins. All these regions were considered high priority due to their natural wealth.

WWF’s strategy is based on the representation of all the local communities of the conservation landscapes and protected area networks. It entails working towards maintenance of evolutionary and ecological processes with viable species populations. It seeks conservation of ecosystems that have the capacity to recuperate from major disruption.

WWF-Colombia uses the following action strategies to attain results:
  • Social Change for Conservation:  where organisational, political and citizenship capacities of local communities and other key players are strengthened. This motivates them to participate in decision-making in favor of sustainable management of natural resources, thus leading to poverty relief and improving life quality.
  • Legislation and Environmental Policies:  through lobbying and joint effort, these policies seek to strengthen policy frameworks and consolidate local, regional, national and international legislation. This provides support to various conservation processes and leads to sustainable development in the eco-regions where WWF works.
  • Communication for Environmental Action:  this aims to provide communication tools and strategies to strengthen key alliances and contribute towards achieving the Program’s conservation objectives.
WWF Colombia considers its alliances with private sector organizations, government agencies, ethnic and peasant community groups, NGOs and other foundations, as a ground for knowledge exchange. The ultimate aim is  promoting conservation and improvement in life quality of both the sexes by developing sound proposals and sustainable lifestyles.

Adhering to the pricipals of respect, honesty, transparency, responsibility and solidarity, WWF ensures good relationships, resulting in long-term strategic alliances.

Progress and Results
These joint efforts have produced results that range from conservation initiatives on private land and protected public areas, to the development of sustainable alternative production processes. Also included are the protection of endangered species and public participation in decision-making scenarios.

A case in point was the declaration of the lake La Cocha (Nariño) as a Ramsar Site – a Wetland of International Importance – in 2001. This achievement, through the initiative of local communities and the support from the Department of Environment, Housing and Land Development, prevented the construction of a mega-project that would have cost the environmental dearly.

With an eye on the future, WWF Colombia has also made fruitful progress in the political arena, always in conjunction with both public and private organizations. During the first term of 2004, both the Colombian and US governments agreed to trade part of Colombia’s national debt against concrete action for the conservation of protected areas, creating both short and medium term investment funds, and guaranteeing their long term financial sustainability.

Along with the two governments, the agencies representing them- NGO International Conservation, The Nature Conservancy and WWF Colombia- all played significant roles in the decision making process. WWF Colombia’s other achievements include:
  • More than 2,000,000 ha of richly biodiverse ecosystems are protected with low-maintenance management.
  • 200 community initiatives for forest management, tourism, fishing, crafts, agribusiness and non-timber forest resource management have generated local incomes and improved the quality of life.
  • A collective effort by communities, foundations, state agencies and environmental authorities, is in the process of ensuring the protection of breeding beaches of more than 250 Leatherback and Olive Ridley Turtles at La Playona, in the gulf of Urabá.
  • The conservation of more than 400,000 ha in the Andean Güiza and Coello river basins and the lake of Fúquene, through collective action by local communities supported by WWF, will ensure water supply for 750,000 inhabitants.
  • As a result of collective action to declare the Bay of Malaga a protected area, 200 humpback whales born there each year, will be free from the threat of accidental death through infrastructure work and collision with boats.
  • The governments of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela have agreed on initiatives leading towards the protection of the high Andean wetlands, which are a source of water for more than 40,000,000 people within the 4 nations.
  • For the first time ever, the South American River Dolphin Census ttok place in the Orinoco and Amazon river basins. A conservation and threat-reduction strategy for the species and its habitats was created.
  • Six migratory-bird monitoring stations for private nature reserves in the Andes and Orinoco are a part of about 31 places in Colombia where more than 1,000 young people are developing projects for conservation and responsible usage of natural resources.
  • In the Chocó-Darién coastal region, Afro-descendent communities and Colombian National Nature Parks now jointly protect 150,000 ha of mangrove swamp thus providing a better income for nearly 9,000 people, 78% of whom are women.
  • More than 100,000 ha of wooded ecosystems and water resources in the Piedemonte Amazon have been conserved thanks to the declaration of new indigenous peoples' resguardos and protected areas.
  • In the Colombian Andes, Orinoco and Chocó regions, conservation efforts in private land safeguards almost 40,000 ha. This improves the ecosystem connectivity that makes up part of the National Network of Protected Areas.
  • Three community forest businesses– 2 indigenous and 1 Afro-descendent, are moving towards Voluntary Forest Certification. Between them, they protect over 300,000 ha of wooded ecosystems.

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