Posted on 27 November 2019
Participants in community initiatives that monitor biodiversity in Colombia for conservation efforts were trained in a workshop on technology and mapping led by IDEAM and sponsored by WWF-Colombia and Fundación Natura.
By Luisa Fernanda Ortiz. Edited by Verónica Tellez Oliveros, WWF-Colombia
Silvia Pedraza lives in the town of Charalá, Santander, one of the few areas in Colombia with a corridor of Andean oaks (Quercus humboldtii
), a species of tree that is in danger of extinction due to indiscriminate logging. The rural association AgroSolidaria, of which Silvia is a member, is active in this community. Its work focuses on the conservation of species such as the oak to reduce the destruction of the forests in the country.
The degradation and loss of forests is one of the main threats to biodiversity and the benefits it provides. In Colombia, one of the factors threatening these ecosystems is deforestation, which amounted to over 197,000 hectares, the majority (70%) concentrated in the Amazon, in 2018, according to data
from the Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies (IDEAM).
Amid these difficulties, IDEAM, WWF-Colombia, and Fundación Natura support community monitoring processes as one way to work to protect forests and reduce deforestation. This past June, they conducted a training workshop for Indigenous and rural leaders, including Silvia. She and 14 other participants from 9 community organizations learned about helpful mapping tools for their monitoring initiatives.
“We often don’t know which tools to use between GPS, maps, or monitoring apps, so education and training are necessary to perfect our processes and make them much more technical,” explains Jorge Elías Lozada, a member of the rural association Corpoayarí in the department of Meta. His organization is currently in the planning stages of a forest monitoring process.
The training workshop was also very helpful for Silvia Pedraza, who is planning a proposal to monitor the oaks in her community to create a local scenic route called La ruta del roble
, an initiative that aims to improve the local economy, especially for women. Her organization is currently finishing up the planning stage of the monitoring process using community mapping tools taught in the workshop such as Maping and Qyis to create the first pathways offering the eco experience.
Training workshops such as this one strengthen community monitoring processes technically and improve the relationship between local monitoring and the National Forest Monitoring System (SNMB), managed by IDEAM. In this way, efforts to conserve the country’s forested areas are organized.
“Over 52% of the forests in the country are inhabited by Indigenous, Afro-descendant, and rural communities, which makes them very important actors in their conservation. Furthermore, the knowledge they have of their forests, from living in these communities, is very valuable, so it must be integrated into the country’s technical knowledge in order to strengthen policies that conserve and more effectively manage these ecosystems,” explains Edith González, Assistant Director of Ecosystems and Environmental Information for IDEAM.
On this relationship, Johana Herrera, Forest and Climate Change Officer at WWF-Colombia, explains that information needs to flow from both sides (national and community initiatives) so that local monitors know the information generated by IDEAM. Communities can then gain better knowledge and tools to make decisions related to their lifestyles and land use and also help supplement the monitoring process conducted by IDEAM via satellite since they are much closer to the land and can have more detailed information.
These training workshops are part of IDEAM’s strategy to organize local monitoring processes with the national monitoring system. As part of this effort, in November, there will be a working group of the Participatory Community Monitoring Network, composed of multiple local organizations, IDEAM, cooperation agencies (FAO and GIZ), and various nonprofits, including WWF, to determine the plan and training sessions for 2020. In this way, the efforts made to conserve the forests will continue to be consolidated.