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The ecotone between Colombia’s Chocó and Andean hotspots contains one of the highest concentrations of range-restricted biodiversity in the world. Many endemic birds, plants and amphibians in this area are at risk of extinction. The focus of this project is the headwaters of the mighty Rio Atrato — the region’s main waterway with the largest volume of water-to-river length in the world — which transects these hotspots and serves as a vital economic resource for tens of thousands of inhabitants living in rural communities.
Until recently, this area’s natural wealth remained largely unexplored as it was at the epicenter of a five-decade-long civil war that prevented the exploitation of its resources. However, after two years of peace between the government and Colombia’s largest guerrilla group, deforestation rates in the country have skyrocketed, leading to the fastest accelerating forest destruction worldwide. With no controls against colonization, the headwaters of the Atrato are at grave risk. It is urgent that this land is purchased before its unique habitat is destroyed.
Rainforest Trust and local partner Fundación ProAves seek $551,909 to purchase and protect 2,332 acres that will expand the Gorrión Andivia Nature Reserve in the Chocó rainforest. This purchase will be the first step in a long-term plan to protect contiguous land stretching from here to the nearby Las Tángaras Nature Reserve. It will also consolidate a state-protected area of over 250,000 acres, preventing development of some of the most pristine and biodiverse forests in the tropics.
*Carbon Storage figures represent estimated metric tonnes of CO2 equivalents stored in above-ground live woody biomass at the project site, as converted from Aboveground Live Woody Biomass Density data provided by the Woods Hole Research Center through climate.globalforestwatch.org.
The ecotone between Colombia’s Chocó hotspot and Andean hotspot
Glittering Starfrontlet (CR), Black-and-chestnut Eagle (EN), Chestnut-bellied Flowerpiercer (EN), Chocó Vireo (EN), Gold-ringed Tanager (EN), Spectacled Bear (V)
Unsustainable logging, gold-mining and cattle production
Land purchase to expand protections
Price per Acre:
Carbon Stored (metric tonnes of CO2 equivalents)*:
This land acquisition ensures the conservation of a key area where ecosystems transition between the Andean and Chocó hotspots, which are two of the most biodiverse and threatened regions on the planet.
Additionally, the land is positioned beside the Farallones del Citará mountain complex, which reaches over 3,000 meters in elevation and captures moisture and humidity off the Pacific Ocean. These factors -- including the area's abrupt changes in elevation gradient -- create unique conditions with diverse ecosystems that shelter important and rare biodiversity that can be found nowhere else. Given its specific environmental conditions, the area is classified as a megadiverse enclave belonging to one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world, the Chocó. Currently, 424 bird species have been identified, including the Critically Endangered Glittering Starfrontlet. In addition, 18 species of amphibians, 18 species of reptiles and 14 species of mammals have been reported, one of the most notable mammals being the Vulnerable Spectacled Bear.
The immense biodiversity of the Chocó Rainforest is threatened by numerous anthropogenic processes.
Unsustainable logging, gold-mining and cattle production have destroyed large areas of the forest, causing a fragmented landscape. This rainforest is severely underprotected and there are no controls in place to slow or stop widespread colonization that leads to deforestation. Recent years have seen an increase in access to this pristine forest following the construction of a major highway. Greater access created by the major highway also caused an increase in indiscriminate hunting and illegal wildlife trafficking. As the region’s population has increased, so has the price of land. With prices climbing, it is imperative to act quickly and purchase land for long-term protection.
The community has embraced conservation strategies as an opportunity to care for local wildlife and their ecological heritage...
The violence and civil war that plagued Colombia in recent decades severely affected the community of Guaduas in the municipality of Carmen de Atrato. Guaduas is dependent on livestock farming, using intensive grazing strategies. However, the local partner has recently led environmental education efforts to empower the community into becoming stewards of their natural resources. The community has embraced conservation strategies as an opportunity to care for local wildlife and their ecological heritage, while seeking alternative livelihoods that generate income from sustainable sources, such as ecotourism and the production of environmentally friendly goods. Through the ongoing educational efforts of the partner, the community residents have begun to request that their land be used for conservation purposes to facilitate successful preservation and environmental protection.
Thanks to the generous support of our Board members and other supporters who cover all of our operating expenses, Rainforest Trust is able to allocate 100% of donations to conservation action. No board member receives financial benefit and our staff salaries are modest.
Rainforest Trust is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
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