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Colombian Coffee Growers Federation Leads Way in Biodiversity Conservation

Bogota, March 11, 2014 (Press FNC) –As part of its sustainability policy, the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC) has developed a successful biodiversity conservation pilot program that can be replicated in other agricultural sectors.

The project, which began in 2010, aims to build conservation corridors while at the same times implements changes the selected  areas’ farming system in order to make them sustainable.  A total of 951 farms, home to 2,690 people, were selected for the project in the departments of Antioquia, Caldas, Cauca, Huila, Risaralda, Santander and Tolima. 

"It is a unique project.  It definitely sets the tone for other coffee areas and other agricultural systems," says Carlos A Uribe, Technical Manager of the FNC.

The construction of corridors by planting native species, helps restore and conserve the biodiversity of a given area while the transformation of production systems focuses on better use of natural resources such as soil and water to make them environmentally sustainable.

"The project has completely changed farmers’ relationships with the environment.  They can remain productive and make a living while conserving biodiversity and the environment, "adds Uribe.

A total of 280,000 seedlings were planted resulting in the growth of more than 100 different native species.  These trees and plants have connected 917 hectares of forests, have served as living fences (boundaries established with trees or shrubs), and have contributed to agroforestry and bamboo plantations and recovered water sources.  Also, coffee plantations under the influence of the project have become more efficient in the use of the water by adopting the FNC-developed wet mill efficient water systems for post-harvesting processes.

5.4 Million Euros Invested

Conservation areas were selected based on their biological significance.  Before the project launched, scientists set a baseline by mapping land use, taking water quality samples and looking at an area’s biodiversity (birds, plants and aquatic invertebrates).

As a result of the project, team biologists discovered a new tree species and identified three species of dragonflies (two were rediscovered after almost a century and the third seen in Colombia for the first time) and the restricted habitats of five species of birds endemic to the country.

The involvement and awareness of the communities in the project have resulted in the creation of 25 thematic community committees in six of the watersheds.  The project, which cost 5.4 million euros, was funded by KfW, a German government development bank, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), the FNC and the beneficiary communities.

The current project builds on the lessons learned from a previous project to integrate biodiversity in coffee growing areas.  That project was implemented by the FNC with the support of the United Nations Program for Development (UNDP) and regional partners in the departments of Valle del Cauca, Quindio and Nariño.  It was funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and impacted a total of 16 coffee municipalities.

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