Colombia, after decades of civil unrest, is transitioning to a post-conflict era. But the peace agreement signed in 2016 between the Colombian government and FARC-EP is impacting the country’s biodiversity. New pressures are being imposed on areas of high biodiversity that previously were off-limits for development. This makes the generation of conservation plans urgent. These plans need to be informed by an understanding of changes in risks to areas of high biodiversity importance, and the effectiveness of conservation efforts such as protected areas (PA).
The aim of this talk is to contribute knowledge to improve the effectiveness of conservation decisions in Colombia through a better understanding of 1) the threats to forest ecosystems and the species that inhabit them, 2) the effectiveness of land protection for biodiversity conservation , and 3) identifying areas to expand the coverage of PAs to improve the retention of species habitat.
I will first go through the results of an analysis of the spatial association between deforestation drivers and forest cover change in the country, with a focus on the effect of armed conflict and coca plantations. Also, I will show the results of another analysis on the impact of future deforestation projections on forest dependent birds in Colombia. Then I will show the results of two recent analysis of the effectiveness of PAs in Colombia and other tropical areas and identify factors that influence tropical PA effectiveness.
Finally, I will share some preliminary results from my latest project on the implications of not accounting for the impact of PAs in retaining species habitat in the landscape when taking decisions on PA expansion. To do this we used Colombia’s 69 regionally endemic forest dependent bird species and their habitat as a case study. We measured the level of additional protection needed to retain a certain percentage of the habitat of all the species under three prioritization scenarios; 1) maximize species representation; 2) maximize species representation while increasing the protection of areas with higher deforestation risk; 3) maximize species representation while increasing the protection of areas with lower deforestation risk. Then, we simulated the spatial distribution of future deforestation to assess the projected level of habitat retained by 2050 for each forest species under the different protection scenarios and compared them to a business-as-usual scenario (BAU), of no expansion of PAs, as a measure of the projected additionality of each potential PA expansion scenario.
Illegal armed groups, National Parks, tropical deforestation, Species richness