In order to preserve, restore and sustainably use the biodiversity of a changing Colombian Amazon, varied strategies of in situ and ex situ conservation have been implemented.
One of these strategies was the structuring of a National System of Protected Areas (SINAPs) composed of regional and subregional systems whose function is to plan, execute and monitor conservation objectives at local, regional and national levels.
As part of this strategy, different types of protected areas were created using the following categories: National Parks, Forest Reserves, Integrated Management Districts and Soil Conservation Districts.
The National Parks of the Colombian Amazon are Amacayacu, Río Puré, Cahuinarí, Alto Fragua Indiwasi, Serranía de Chiribiquete, Cordillera de Los Picachos, Serranía de los Churumbelos and La Paya. These protected areas cover an area of over 40,861km2. Some of these parks are in territories whose jurisdiction is shared with indigenous lands organized in reserves, with the constitutional power to make decisions regarding the management of natural resources in their territory. Over time, indigenous reserves in conjunction with the national parks have become a strategic instrument for the conservation of biological and cultural diversity of this region of Colombia.
The category of protective forest reserves includes Puerto Solano and the high Mocoa River Basin. They have an area of approximately 34,600 hectares. Additionally, through forestry management plans focused on the sustainable use of forests, they have incorporated 2,040,550 hectares of land in a category called forest production areas. These areas are in indigenous territories, under the ownership of the state and private owners. Examples of these areas are the Forest Management Unit Mecaya-Sencella, the Forest Management Unit of Tarapacá and the Forest Management Unit of Puerto Nariño.
With regard to the conservation of bodies of water, specific management categories such as fishing reserves (areas with restrictions on fishing activities) have been implemented to conserve fisheries and hydrobiological resources.
Another conservation strategy is focusing on specific actions for ecological restoration in order to promote ecosystem regeneration. Among these are the implementation of agroforestry systems and the development of agroecology systems.
At the level of species conservation, government institutions, non-governmental organizations, academic and research institutes have made strides toward building knowledge of the biology and ecology of threatened populations, the implementation of participatory monitoring systems in conjunction with communities, the inclusion and valuation of traditional knowledge in research processes and resource management, the rehabilitation and reintroduction of individuals, and the formulation of management recommendations. Additionally, there are centers of flora (botanical gardens, gene banks, etc.), control policies and monitoring of wildlife trafficking.
The current challenges of conservation strategies of the Colombian Amazon are focused on:
- Investment in education and research: Strengthening education and research policies in the region and promoting the generation of knowledge, with the inclusion of traditional knowledge. Applying scientific knowledge to the development of management and conservation strategies promoted by government agencies.
- Spatial planning: Tools supporting the conservation and sustainable use of resources. These will contribute to actions such as the preservation of forests and watersheds, maintenance of ecological corridors (Andes-Amazon connectivity), increasing protected areas, and solving economic and environmental conflicts.
- Equity in access to natural resources and sharing of benefits of ecosystem services; ensure compliance with the fundamental rights of the communities involved in landscape transformation scenarios (for example prior and informed consent, among others).
- Ensure the biological, cultural and economic sustainability of activities in the region.
Ruiz S. L., Sánchez E., Tabares E., Prieto A., Arias J. C, Gómez R., Castellanos D., García P., Rodríguez
L. (eds). 2007. Diversidad biológica y cultural del sur de la Amazonia colombiana – Diagnóstico. Corpoamazonia, Instituto Humboldt, Instituto Sinchi, UAESPNN, Bogotá D. C. – Colombia. 636 p.
Jaramillo D., Rojas A., Ortíz N. 2011. Retos para un desarrollo sostenible: Transformaciones en la Amazonia colombiana. Fundación Alisos. Bogotá D.C. – Colombia. 126 p.