The Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) enthusiastically congratulates Colombia on the announcement of a 1.5-million-hectare expansion of Chiribiquete National Park, the country’s largest protected area. Increasing Chiribiquete’s area by over 50%, this protective measure will help stave off the extensive deforestation moving in from the northwest. Surrounding the park lie two of the most deforested municipalities in Colombia, San Vicente del Caguán and Cartagena del Chairá, where in 2016 alone, more than 21,000 hectares of forest were destroyed.
The expansion area had previously been de facto protected from similar encroachment by the threats of Colombia’s armed conflict, which rendered the area isolated and off-limits to the outside world. Now in the post-conflict era, however, the area has been exposed to environmental degradation and deforestation. The latest Chiribiquete expansion thus comes at a critical time, providing legal protection to lands and rivers harboring extraordinary levels of biodiversity.
In Chiribiquete today, there are 490 known unique or threatened plant species, 20 threatened bird species, 207 fish species (two new to science), four possible new butterfly species, and 20 species of mammals. By shielding this and other megadiverse areas in the Amazon, Colombia is taking a lead role in environmental conservation.
Beyond the conservation of biodiversity is the protection of the isolated peoples and other indigenous communities who call Chiribiquete home and who benefit from the securities afforded by the park’s natural reserve status.
ACT began working with the communities that live in the park’s adjacent reserves in 2002. Since then, ACT has partnered with local indigenous communities to ensure that the forest—including its biodiversity and other resources—is appropriately managed and protected to ensure long-term health. ACT’s close collaboration with local communities supports the recovery and strengthening of traditions through ethnoeducation and other knowledge transmission programs, and supports the communities in determining their own future through governance capacity-building.
To that end, in partnership with private and government entities, ACT worked toward the historic 2017 expansions of two indigenous reserves to the south of Chiribiquete. These expansions connected Chiribiquete to Colombia’s largest indigenous reserve, the Predio Putumayo Indigenous Reserve, creating a vast conservation corridor in the Amazon region and linking approximately 10 million hectares of protected land.
About the Amazon Conservation Team:
The Amazon Conservation Team® (ACT®) founded in 1996, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that partners with indigenous and other local communities to protect tropical forests and strengthen traditional culture. ACT’s vision is a future where healthy tropical forests and thriving local communities exist in harmonious relationship with each other, contributing to the well-being of the planet. Since its origins, ACT has recognized that lasting change requires a long-term, on-the-ground commitment. Over the course of more than 20 years, ACT has been privileged to work with more than 50 indigenous groups. Currently, ACT focuses the majority of its efforts in the northeast Amazon (particularly Suriname), the northwest Amazon (primarily Colombia), and Brazil.
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