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Multi-generational community engagement supports forest restoration and environmental education in the Andean-Amazonian foothills of Colombia.


Corporación para el Desarrollo Sustentable para el Piedemonte Andino-Amazónico (CORDESPA)

Belén de los Andaquíes, Caquetá, Colombia

The municipality of Belén de los Andaquíes is located in the southeast of Colombia in the department of Caquetá, an ecologically important transitional zone between the Andean Massif and the Amazon jungle. Working directly with rural, multi-generational families, this locally-led project will plant 100,000 native forestry and agroforestry tree species over two years and support income generation, environmental education and nature connection in the area. Alongside restoring and protecting these biodiverse forests, the project aims to preserve the wetland areas of Belén, currently invaded by cattle, by planting a barrier of native palms, which will also have economic benefits for the local community living around the national and municipal parks.




Hectares of forest planted to date

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Rural families restoring forests and farmlands



Trees to plant per year


By partnering directly with CORDESPA, a local NGO that residents formed to work in land management conservation and sustainable development, this project is designed and led by those with expertise, local knowledge and care most about the area’s protection and success. CORDESPA’s approach starts with community and family, including women, children and elders in the design and implementation. They focus on shifting the perspective that sees the parks and forests as limitations to expansion but rather as allies and providers. The project works closely with families to highlight the beneficial aspects of the forest and fully involve them in the how and why of conservation efforts. The project also works with local schools, building several tree nurseries so students can propagate the seeds, care for the seedlings, and participate in environmental education workshops. These workshops, which include children, young people and women, aim to strengthen local knowledge of rural entrepreneurship so the initiative's future social and economic sustainability is in local hands.

"Being part of the CORDESPA work team, with the support of TreeSisters, has allowed me to return to my territory and to contribute professionally to the community where I grew up... I feel that I am restoring my life because I contribute to the conservation and care of water, the forest and the environment"

Ingrieth Julieth Mosquera Sotto, age 24, Professional Biologist, Cordespa team


Despite large areas of land having protected status, many residents do not recognise its importance and continue in environmentally damaging and unsustainable practices in pursuit of their livelihoods. Cattle-rearing forms a large part of the area’s economic activity, generating issues of deforestation, soil compaction, erosion, and a decrease in the land's productive capacity. Crops for illicit use (mainly Coca) bring with them environmental problems typical of monocultures, with little resistance to environmental change and pest invasion. By planting agroforestry trees such as fruit and oils, as well as restoring native forests, locals economically benefit from the trees planted, further strengthening their relationship with the environment and supporting a move towards more sustainable economic activities.
All the trees and palms being used in the project are 100% native species! These were carefully selected based on their importance to the environment and culture and their potential for producing non-timber products from the forest. The project is helping to conserve the Amazon by incorporating agroforestry species attractive to many mammals and birds, supporting the process of pollination and seed dispersal in prioritised ecosystems. This approach contributes to conservation efforts and sustainably supports the local economy.


This project is centred around a participatory approach with education and nature connection embedded into its aims. By partnering directly with an NGO whose staff are all local to the region, the restoration and protection of the area will be designed and implemented by the community, women and young people that live there. Temporary nurseries will be set up with plant material from the same region, and environmental and community days will be held to educate everyone on the importance and opportunity the natural environment provides. Social mapping, case studies and knowledge sharing will help the initiative better understand the use and sowing of native seeds and identify lessons learned to replicate this approach in other regions.

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