Chocó-Darién Ecoregional Complex
Almost 58% of the total area remains a virgin forest within the 3 countries in the ecoregion, particularly Colombia and Panama. Different levels of human intervention can be found in 46% of the ecoregion.
Due to its varied flora and fauna, the Chocó region is one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet. It has a significant number of endemic species - 400 species of trees and 800 species of vertebrates per hectare.
Between 7000-8000 species of plants and 100 bird species are found only in this part of the world. Migratory species visiting the coasts of the Chocó each year include the humpback whale, hawksbill, leatherback, black sea and loggerhead turtles as well as shorebirds and waders. These animals either come in search of a mate, to reproduce, nest, or feed.
Only 5% of the Colombian region is protected by means of national parks while ethnic territories account for 32% of the ecoregional complex. These Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities rely mainly on subsistence and exploitive economies. It is precisely these territories that provide an important opportunity for conservation efforts in addition to national protected areas.
The Chocó ecoregion is also one of the most culturally diverse in Latin America and the Caribbean. In pre-Columbian times the area was inhabited and shaped by more than 30 culturally different ethnic groups. Currently, there are 6 different indigenous groups living in the region: Tule, Embera, Eperara Siapidara, Wounaan, Awa and Chachi.
There are also numerous and distinctive Afro-American communities with several centuries' history of living in these rainforests and mangroves. Other communities are made up of mestizos, descendants of migrants from diverse areas of the country.