Colombia

Saving the Last Rainforest in Colombia’s Magdalena Valley

Project Cost: $369,800

Funding Raised: $352,192

$285 per acre (1 acre = 43,560 sq ft)
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Colombia’s Magdalena Valley, centered around the 700-mile Magdalena River basin, contains lowland rainforest with flora and fauna from neighboring Amazon, Chocó and Central American regions, making it one of the most biodiverse areas on Earth. The basin is larger than the state of Colorado yet has incredibly high endemism, providing vital habitat for many threatened species that live no where else, like the Critically Endangered Blue-billed Curassow and the Magdalena Spider Monkey, considered one of the rarest primates on Earth. The area is also home to populations of the Magdalena Lowland Tapir (a Critically Endangered subspecies), Jaguar and Spectacled Bear.

Unfortunately, over 98% of the region’s lowland rainforest in the Magdalena Valley has been destroyed, principally for cattle ranching and illicit coca production. Located only 85 miles north of Colombia’s capital city, Bogotá, the region’s last stand of lowland rainforest is under intense pressure from illegal logging. Less than 2% of the region’s lowland forest remains intact.

After years of negotiations, Rainforest Trust and our local partner ProAves have secured the purchase rights to a strategic 1,178-acre property at $285 per acre until the end of 2018. The new parcel is strategically located beside the most vulnerable flank of El Paujil Bird Reserve and would block road access for loggers. However, we urgently need to raise the final $54,000 by December 31, 2018 to complete the purchase before being offered to ranchers.

Photo: The Critically Endangered Blue-billed Curassow. Photo by Fundación ProAves.

Fast Facts

Location:
Magdalena Valley, Colombia

Size:
1,178

Key Species:
Blue-billed Curassow (CR), Magdalena Lowland Tapir (CR), Magdalena Spider Monkey (CR), Spectacled Bear (VU)

Habitat:
Lowland tropical rainforest

Threats:
Logging and cattle ranching

Action:
Land purchase

Local partner:
ProAves

Financial need:

$336,182 by December 31, 2018

Price per Acre:
$45.84

Total Carbon Storage (Mt CO2):
1,112,000

Biodiversity

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). The Paujil Reserve, 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. Since 2003, we have helped ProAves acquire a number of properties to consolidate the El Paujil Nature reserve–the first protected area of Magdalena lowland rainforest. 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 cattle ranches.  

Photo: The Critically Endangered Magdalena Spider Monkey. Photo by Fundación ProAves.
 

Challenges

Tragically, intensive colonization across the region continues unabated so that many of the region’s endemic species are now Critically Endangered.

The main threats facing this region is illegal logging and then conversion of lands into cattle ranches and coca plantations. These activities have resulted in the loss of more than 16 million acres of lowland rainforest habitat.  

Photo: Illegal logging in the Paujil Reserve. Photo by Fundación ProAves.
 

Communities

The communities surrounding the El Paujil Bird Reserve are mainly colonists that have lived in the region for less than twenty years.

The main focus of the reserve is species recovery and ecological restoration, and environmental education activities are offered, including a long-running annual festival celebrating the Critically Endangered Blue-billed Curassow. Ecotourism opportunities and visitation to the reserve are expected to increase in the coming years.  

Photo: Local children touring the Paujil Reserve with Rainforest Trust CEO Paul Salaman. Photo by Fundación ProAves.
 

Solutions

After years of negotiations, Rainforest Trust and our local partner ProAves have secured the purchase rights to a strategic 1,178-acre property at $285 per acre until the end of 2018.

The new parcel is strategically located beside the most vulnerable flank of El Paujil Bird Reserve and would block road access for loggers. However, we urgently need to raise the final $54,000 by December 31, 2018 to complete the purchase before being offered to ranchers. The project also includes establishing clear boundaries around the new parcels and hiring additional forest guards to patrol the larger protected area. Luckily, the reserve already has good facilities for researchers and ecotourists, which help cover the costs of sustaining protective measures. (Photo: Colombia’s Magdalena Valley. Photo by Fundación ProAves. )