Colombia – a biodiversity hotspot

View on the Tatama National Park in Colombia
View of Tatama National Park: In Colombia there are many different ecosystems and a great diversity of animals and plants. Photo: Shutterstock

Colombia is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world – and many IKI projects support the conservation of this multi-faceted range of biodiversity.

The Amazon rainforest, the Andes, coastal zones to the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and the extensive river landscapes: even this small selection illustrates the sheer diversity of ecosystems that exist in Colombia, and the variety of plants and animal species is correspondingly wide. Around 10% of the species that exist worldwide are found in Colombia, and this makes the conservation of Colombian species and their habitats extremely important, also at international level.

Germany and Colombia – working together for the conservation of the climate and ecosystems

Colombia’s importance as a “biodiversity hotspot” is highlighted this year by World Environment Day. The main topic for 2020 is the conservation of biodiversity and Colombia, in partnership with Germany, has been won as a host country. Here you will find the recorded livestream of the "Host Country Programme" of 5th June.

Cooperation between the two countries in the field of climate and species conservation has already been established. Colombia is a priority country of the International Climate Initiative (IKI). Within the framework of the IKI, the Federal German Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) is currently funding 46 climate and biodiversity projects in Colombia, 21 of which are aimed at conserving biodiversity. Eight of the biodiversity-relevant projects are implemented bilaterally, i.e. exclusively in Colombia (€31 million), four projects are implemented regionally in Colombia and neighbouring countries (€18 million for all countries) and nine projects are anchored globally (€54 million for all countries).

These bilateral projects tackle biodiversity-related issues in the fields of adaptation to the impacts of climate change, the conservation and sustainable use of natural carbon sinks/REDD+ and the conservation and management of natural ecosystems.

An insight into the work of the IKI in Colombia – reducing land use conflicts, involving indigenous groups and evaluating biodiversity

The reduction or resolution of land use conflicts is a vital element in the conservation of biodiversity – and to peace in Colombia. To preserve the unique natural forests, for example, the IKI supports sustainable forms of use – particularly in agriculture – and identifies “deforestation drivers”. The aim here is the conservation of the globally unique biodiversity of this ecosystem and of the country’s natural carbon sinks.

Yet another important factor in the work of the IKI in Colombia is the involvement of indigenous people and the preservation of their knowledge. In the northwest of the country, for example, many national and regional protected areas are exposed to pressure from the mining industry. In this region, one particular project supports the environmental planning of indigenous reserves and shows local populations (especially women) possibilities for the sustainable use of biodiversity. This preserves traditional knowledge and gives it added value for the people.

If we are to succeed in integrating the conservation of biodiversity into political and planning actions, it helps to know the actual benefits of an ecosystem and to quantify the system’s value – this issue is tackled by an IKI project for the conservation of the Orinoco river landscape. Still largely untouched, the complex Orinoco ecosystem provides important “services” for the population – river ecosystems, for example, are necessary for providing drinking water, for productive agriculture and for climate regulation. However, if this situation is to be preserved in the Orinoco region, the country’s fast-growing agricultural industry must take the value of the ecosystem into account and ensure its conservation. To this end, an IKI project provides local stakeholders with approaches for the economic valuation of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Do you want to learn more about IKI work in Colombia? Our project videos and profiles will give you more insights.

Background – why do we need global biodiversity?

The term biodiversity – short for biological diversity – encompasses the diversity of ecosystems, of species and the genetic diversity of species. “Everything is linked” in an ecosystem and between ecosystems, meaning that each species has its own particular function and contributes to the ecological balance.

Biodiversity and intact ecosystems have intrinsic values – but we also benefit from them in many ways, including the supply of food, for example, the availability of medicinal plants and the choice of building materials such as wood or sand. “Ecosystem services” also include functions like flood protection, which, for example, is also provided by mangrove forests.

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