Major Rainforest Conservation Success in Colombia

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The Andoke de Aduche  Indigenous Reserve in the Colombian Amazon is expanded, connecting it to the world’s largest rainforest conservation corridor   

Jesús Miguel Andoque, one of the governors of the Andoke de Aduche reserve and governor of the Andoke de Araracuara council

As the advance of the deforestation frontier increasingly threatens the Colombian Amazon, forests not designated as protected areas or under the control of indigenous peoples are exceptionally vulnerable, as they risk becoming the “tip of the spear” for degradation and eventual deforestation.  One of these last large expanses of unprotected forest in the Colombian Amazon is located on the southeastern border of Chiribiquete National Park, the world’s largest tropical rainforest park and a UNESCO world heritage site. Chiribiquete is of crucial importance for global biocultural diversity, as it connects the Andes mountains,  the  Amazon rainforest, and  the  Guiana  Shield, and is suggested to be home to indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation. This previously unprotected forested area has been claimed by the  Andoke  indigenous people as an expansion  area  for their reserve to the south, the  Andoke  de  Aduche  indigenous reserve, established in 1988.  

With support from the Amazon Conservation Team (ACT), the  Andoke  de  Aduche  reserve was expanded today by 126,287 hectares, now totaling  188,466 hectares and connecting to a 10-million-hectare conservation corridor the size of Portugal. This expansion consolidates a biocultural corridor made up of national parks and the indigenous reserves of the Colombian Amazon including those of  the  murui-muinaɨ  (Uitoto),  féénemɨnaa  (Muinane),  and  po’siɵ’hɵ  (Andoke).  This important achievement would not have been possible without the support of the Andes Amazon Fund and the Colombian government. 

In 2017, ACT and its partner communities were able to achieve major expansions of other indigenous reserves that  also  lie  on the southern border of Chiribiquete National Park, connecting the largest indigenous reserve of Colombia,  the  Predio  Putumayo, with Chiribiquete. Of particular note  is that  this expansion of the  Andoke  de  Aduche  reserve is likely to be one of the last large indigenous reserve expansions in the Colombian  Amazon, of which close to 55% is designated as indigenous territories  and more than 20% designated as national  parkland. With  this expansion, ACT has formalized close to  one  million hectares of indigenous lands, amounting to almost half of all lands in Colombia titled to indigenous peoples in the last decade.  

The Devil’s Balcony (Balcón del Diablo) in the Araracuara Canyon (Cañón de Araracuara)

Also benefiting from this expansion are  regional  fauna.  Studies carried out in the region  reveal  the presence of the giant otter (Pteronura  brasiliensis) and the Amazon river dolphin (Inia  geoffrensis), both  classified as  endangered species  by the IUCN. Vulnerable  species such as the  tapir (Tapirus  terrestris) can also be found in the area. Numerous  primates such as the Colombian red howler and the  Spix’s  night monkey (Aotus  vociferans) make their home here as well. 355  bird species  have been identified, among which the harpy eagle (Harpija  harpyja), the largest and most powerful raptor found in the rainforest, is of  particular  note as its conservation requires extensive territories and because it has been extirpated from most of its northern range in Central America.  

Indigenous maloca, Andoke de Aduche reserve

The  Andoke  people play a strategic role in  area  conservation and  the  control of deforestation drivers near Chiribiquete. The expansion of this reserve is crucial for the cultural survival of this vulnerable population and the protection of unique biodiversity. Equally important, the  expanded reserve is located in the  Araracuara  region,  an  area  with unique landscapes that are sacred  to  the  Andoke  and other indigenous peoples of the area. This ancestral land with its irreplaceable biodiversity is now protected for generations to come.  

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