Project title: Sustainable Livelihoods and Forest Ecosystem Restoration (SFEC)
Funded by: World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
Co-funded by: Global Heritage Fund (GHF)
Lead agency: Environomica Onlus
Overall term: 2015 to 2019
Over the past three decades, Colombia went from ranking fourth to 24th in terms of water wealth on a global scale. Estimates suggest that the country will suffer economically from water shortages by mid-century if the current trend continues unabated. Deforestation, illegal mining, and climate change have turned rivers, streams, and glaciers into arid scars. A growing share of the population is fighting for access to water in traditionally water-rich regions, while the primary sector consumes 84% of the country’s annual water inflow and recharge.
This dramatic scenario is particularly evident in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta: a north-eastern mountain range recognized by the IUCN as the most irreplaceable bioregion in the world for its concertation of threatened species. Around 2 million people are estimated to depend on the freshwater supplied by this Sierra Nevada. Yet agribusinesses and inhabitants are thriving at the expense of nature through uncontrolled cattle ranching, land clearing, and mining. In the aftermath of the Colombian armed conflict and decades of illegal crop farming, many are the environmental threats to such irreplaceable bioregion.
Our experts have visited the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta on multiple occasions since March 2015 to assess the most pressing environmental and social needs, help foundations formulate strategies, and set the baseline for interventions aimed at restoring forest ecosystems and enabling the transition to agroforestry and sustainable agriculture.