Washington, D.C. December 9, 2014 – The World Bank approved today a US$10.4 million grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), aimed at reducing deforestation and preserving biodiversity in close to nine million hectares (almost the size of Hungary) in the Caqueta and Guaviare departments of Colombia’s Amazon region. Funding will be used for the Forest Conservation and Sustainability in the Heart of the Colombian Amazon Project, which seeks to improve governance and promote sustainable land-use practices.
“The Project lays the ground for a type of land management system that uses a rural development point of view that values conservation and responds to the economic and productive needs of local inhabitants,” said Alberto Galan, Executive Director of Patrimonio Natural, the organization responsible for implementing the donation in coordination with the Ministry of the Environment. “As part of this project, we are in charge of making strategic investments drawing on multiple experiences at the service of more effective processes, based on multi-sectorial partnerships and a long term approach.”
The project will benefit close to 3,500 indigenous people in seven indigenous reserves. It is estimated that close to 200 peasant families will also benefit from the implementation of agroforestry productive systems and the transfer of forest conservation techniques. The project proposes activities aimed at easing the pressure on deforestation and biodiversity while helping to generate opportunities for vulnerable communities in the area, including small-scale farmers and indigenous communities. The project will also have a positive impact on regional productive associations, local governments and environmental authorities.
The importance of the Amazon rainforest is known globally: it is the world’s largest carbon sink, serving as a powerful climate regulator. It is one of the planet’s great biological reserves, home to millions of endemic species, purveyor of ecological services and refuge to several indigenous communities.
“This project ratifies the World Bank’s commitment to the environment and the Colombian government. We support the Vision Amazonia initiative and we are confident that it will contribute to the preservation of biodiversity in Colombia’s Amazon region,” said Gerardo Corrochano, World Bank Director for Colombia and Mexico.
Back in 2013, the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development presented Vision Amazonia, an initiative that seeks to establish partnerships between the country and the international community around development models for the reduction of carbon emissions in these rainforest areas. Moreover, at the United Nations Climate Change Summit Colombia ratified its pledge to reduce Amazon deforestation to zero by 2020. The project is the first one that falls under Vision Amazonia and is aligned with the activities and goals of the National Development Plan for the Protected Areas Program, which will contribute to the preservation and conservation of the existing network of protected areas and the interconnectivity between the Andes and the Amazon regions via the Macarena mountain range.
Between 1990 and 2010, Colombia lost 6.2 million hectares of forest. Preliminary figures indicate that if this situation persists, by 2020 it will have lost 1.3 million hectares. The main cause is extensive livestock farming, followed by colonization.
Project implementation will be supported by the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development; IDEAM; National Natural Parks, and the SINCHI Institute for Amazon Research and Natural Heritage.