3,356 Acres of Endangered Magdalena Valley Rainforest Saved

magdalena valley
 Blue-billed Curassow
Rainforest Trust Conservation Director

Rainforest Trust and our partner, ProAves Colombia, together with the support of American Bird Conservancy, Earth’s Birthday, Luanne Lemmer, and The Rainforest Site announce that six strategic private properties have been acquired from loggers to double the size of the Paujil Nature Reserve and protect an additional 3,356 acres of lowland tropical rainforest in the Magdalena valley of Colombia.

The 700 mile-long Magdalena river basin once held a lush carpet of lowland rainforest encircled by the mighty Central and Eastern Cordillera mountain ranges. This isolated rainforest have been a biological melting pot, influenced by the flora and fauna from neighboring regions like the Amazon that has given rise to a rich assemblage of biodiversity with an exceptional diversity of endemic flora and fauna, like the Blue-billed Curassow (Crax alberti) and Magdalena Spider Monkey (Ateles hybridus). Tragically, intensive colonization across the region continues unabated and has resulted in the elimination of nearly 10 million acres for ranching, coca plantations and other activities, while many of the region’s endemic species are now critically endangered.

The Serranía de las Quinchas, on the border between the Boyacá and Santander departments and located just 85 miles north of the capital Bogotá, represents one of the last opportunities to safeguard a critical area of Magdalena valley rainforest. In 2003, ProAves acquired a number of properties to consolidate the 3,678-acre El Paujil Nature reserve–the first protected area of Magdalena lowland rainforest. The site was declared an Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) site in 2005 as it held the population stronghold for the Blue-billed Curassow. ProAves also started a threatened species research program and engaged local communities in sustainable development and outreach activities around the reserve. However, forests surrounding the reserve were being clearing to sell timber and establish illicit coca plantations and pasturelands.

Since 2008, we have been working to acquire and protect additional properties from loggers that surround the reserve to ensure viable populations of the most endangered species. In recent months, we are pleased that our partner ProAves Colombia has completed the acquisition of six strategic private properties totaling 3,356 acres, from loggers and coca farmers, to almost double the size of the Paujil Nature Reserve. The expanded reserve includes over 400 acres of pasturelands requiring reforestation as well as some of the most intact primary forest surviving in the Magdalena valley of Colombia. Today, the Paujil Nature Reserve is now 6,935 acres and protects in perpetuity over 100 pairs of the Critically Endangered Blue-billed Curassow as well as stronghold populations of the Magdalena Spider Monkey, Jaguar, Spectacled Bear and extremely rare Magdalena race of the Lowland Tapir (Tapirus terrestris columbianus).

Many thanks to our donors that contributed to the Magdalena rainforest appeal and also a special thanks to the support of Luanne Lemmer, American Bird Conservancy, Earth’s Birthday, and The Rainforest Site.

Rainforest Trust will continue to support our partner buying and saving critical rainforest properties around the Paujil Nature Reserve to ensure long-term viable populations of the endangered species. For more information on the appeal, click here.