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The Living Colombia Report: a new tool for conservation in a megadiverse country


If you’re interested in conservation, you’ll also be interested in Colombia. The country has more species of birds and amphibians than any other; is the world’s most diverse country relative to its size, being home to over 9000 species found nowhere else in the world; and has habitats that vary from Andean glaciers to tropical rainforests and arid deserts.

If that’s not enough, it’s also home to over 100 different ethnicities, including pre-Colombian indigenous peoples. How could you not be interested? It’s also a country that’s now in the political limelight. A 50 year civil war is moving towards its conclusion and international finance for green development and forest conservation is ramping up. The best of times then?

Children playing, La Planada Reserve © Diego M. Garces / WWFChildren playing, La Planada Reserve © Diego M. Garces / WWF

Or maybe the worst of times if you consider some of the huge challenges Colombia faces. There is a lack of effective governance in some of the most biodiverse parts of the country. Cattle ranching is causing deforestation in some of the most important tropical forests on Earth. Mining pollution is poisoning fish in the world’s largest river system, affecting local communities who eat them. Horrific violence against environmental and human rights defenders makes it one of the most dangerous countries  to work. The peace process is far from complete and could yet unravel. And on top of all that, Colombia is acknowledged to be particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Long-tailed Sylph © Diego M. Garces / WWFLong-tailed Sylph © Diego M. Garces / WWF

So how do you get to grips with all this? What you need is a way of understanding the range and complexity of challenges facing the biodiversity and natural resources of this exceptional country, something easy to digest but authoritative. With the launch of the English summary version of WWF Colombia’s Living Colombia Report you have just that!

It breaks things down into three sections:

  1. State – or how things stand for biodiversity
  2. Pressure – what the main threats are
  3. Response – where the solutions might be found

In the third section of this report, WWF Colombia outlines three elements to improving natural resource conservation. The first is about making space for nature – not just in protected areas, but also in the landscapes where food and other goods are produced. The second is to promote a more inclusive style of governance in which all relevant stakeholders get to participate in decisions about the use of natural resources. Conservation can’t be imposed on Colombia’s people, it has to be designed for them and work with them. The third element relates to better regulating finance and markets so that they work for, rather than against, a low-carbon, sustainable economy.

Pink river dolphin swimming in the Putumayo river, Colombia. © WWF-Colombia / Joana ToroPink river dolphin swimming in the Putumayo river, Colombia © WWF-Colombia / Joana Toro

For someone like me who works on Colombian conservation, this report is incredibly valuable. It lays out the issues and solutions in a convincing way and will help me communicate the urgency of the situation. I think it also helps establish WWF as a key player in the conservation of Colombia’s extraordinary biodiversity. And there’s never been a more opportune moment for WWF to move conservation to centre stage in Colombia.

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