COLOMBIA

Expanding Colombia’s Magnolia Reserve

Project Cost: $162,078

Funding Raised: $81,039

$403 per acre (1 acre = 43,560 sq ft)

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Selva de Ventanas Natural Reserve, within the ‘Alto de Ventanas’ bio-geographical region in Northwest Colombia, is the most biodiverse area within the Antioquia region. Home to Critically Endangered species such as Handley’s Slender Mouse Opossum and the Ventanas Magnolia, this reserve safeguards vital habitat for the region’s flora and fauna.

Rainforest Trust seeks $162,078 to assist our local partner Corporación SalvaMontes in expanding the Selva de Ventanas Natural Reserve by 402 acres. Buying two neighboring parcels will help with the strategic goal of consolidating a biological corridor in the area, including the largest remaining patches of well-preserved forests where key species are present. Old secondary forests with massive trees and primary forests with aged trees compose these patches of humid pre-montane forests. The management of the expansion will be supported with the addition of a ranger and new camera traps to monitor the areas.

Photo: The orchid Lepanthes culex. Photo by Corporación SalvaMontes.

Fast Facts

Location:
Antioquia, Colombia

Size/Acres:
402

Price per Acre:
$403

Key Species:
Handley’s Slender Mouse Opossum (CR), Ventanas Magnolia (CR), Adenobrachia Andes Frog (EN), Guatape Magnolia (EN), Schlimm’s Phragmipedium Orchid (EN), Small Lemur’s Dracula Orchid (EN), Yarumal Magnolia (EN).

Habitat:
Pre-montane forest

Threats:
Agricultural expansion, gold mining, road construction

Action:
Expand the Selva de Ventanas Natural Reserve

Local Partner:
Corporación SalvaMontes

Financial Need:
$162,078

Total Carbon Storage (Mt CO2):
132,000

Biodiversity

The ‘Alto de Ventanas’ bio-geographical region, where the proposed expansion is to take place, is one of the regions with the most endemic and threatened species in Antioquia.

Fifty-six plant species endemic to Colombia are found in this area, several of them are Critically Endangered. Our partner has discovered at least two new species of orchids that have yet to be described. In addition, there is the presence of the Handley’s Slender Mouse Opossum – an endemic and Critically Endangered mammal – and the Endangered Adenobrachia Andes Frog.  

Photo: The endangered Adenobrachia Andes Frog. Photo by Corporación SalvaMontes.

Challenges

Because there are not many environmentally-sustainable economic opportunities in this region and little to no financial incentive to protect the environment, many people are involved in agricultural expansion.

This can lead to a significant loss of native forest, while also eroding the soil, contaminating water resources and threatening several endemic species that inhabit these forests. Additionally, illegal gold mining threatens the area and encourages the construction of roads and access routes that can accelerate the process of colonization and deforestation of these ecosystems.  

Photo: Deforestation in the Alto de Ventanas region. Photo by Corporación SalvaMontes.
 

Communities

Campesinos live around the proposed expansion and our partner has been working with them for the consolidation of biological corridors.

It is through these types of community organizations that awareness and environmental education programs will be channeled, and it is through these programs that our local partner will promote the creation of the Association of Natural Reserves in the region of Alto de Ventanas. The partner already works with a local school by giving educational talks about the region’s biodiversity and environmental services delivered by natural forests. They also provide guided tours within the protected area, so children can see the key species firsthand, learn about their importance and understand how to preserve them. A Ventanas Magnolia tree was planted at the school, and the children are now taking care of it as a symbol of environmental awareness. Additionally, a program of community participative science is being designed to involve local people in identifying alternative modes of production that will help conservation strategies.  

Photo: Field observations. Photo by Corporación SalvaMontes.
 

Solutions

Rainforest Trust seeks $162,078 to assist our local partner Corporación SalvaMontes in expanding the Selva de Ventanas Natural Reserve by 402 acres.

This has been identified as the most biodiverse area of the Antioquia region, and has suffered habitat loss due to agricultural expansion. It is imperative to purchase these parcels, as they contain some of the most well-preserved remaining forest patches. The purchase of these 402 acres will help increase the elevation and habitat coverage of the protected area, while consolidating another piece of the long-term biological corridor goal. To ensure the area’s long-term conservation success, Rainforest Trust is funding camera traps to monitor species within the protected area and a drone to periodically survey forest canopy health. A ranger stationed within the protected area will be monitoring boundaries and providing trail and camera trap maintenance. For the sustained management of the protected area, Corporación SalvaMontes is working with other partners such as South Pole Group, Terrasos, Fundación EPM and CorAntioquia to implement a habitat bank in the protected area. Companies that need to compensate for environmental impact can do so by helping SalvaMontes with their conservation goals through the habitat bank. Terrasos is also helping them find companies who want to invest their compensation budget with SalvaMontes initiatives. SalvaMontes is also working with the local government to implement tax exemptions for people who protect intact forests on their properties. This means that SalvaMontes is advocating that the local municipalities allow campesinos to declare part of their land a conservation area, and receive a reduction on land property taxes as a result. (Photo: A flower of the Ventanas Magnolia, of which only 25 trees remain. Photo by Corporación SalvaMontes.)