Colombia has a total of 59.5 million hectares of natural forest, making up 52.1 percent of the country’s territory. It is one of the countries with the greatest natural forest cover in Latin America, along with a high diversity of flora and fauna.
Despite this, in 2014, Colombia was the only country in Latin America that had not started the first cycle of the National Forest Inventory (NFI). That is why, starting in 2015, within the framework of the UN-REDD National Programme and with the support of other donors, the country began to design and prepare the start of this colossal but important process.
The NFI within Colombia is focused on, among other objectives, updating and improving forest knowledge through the reliable, consistent and continuous generation of data. This provides better information on forest structure, composition and the functioning of natural forests to combat climate change.
In brief, the UN-REDD National Programme supported Colombia in:
- Promoting coordination spaces for the planning of the first NFI activities, including the design of the NFI, challenges in the field and management/processing of information. The Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies (IDEAM) led this process, with the participation of key partners such as the Biological Resources Research Institute (IAvH), the Marine and Coastal Research Institute (Invemar), the Pacific Environmental Research Institute (IIAP), the Amazon Institute for Scientific Research (SINCHI) and Silvacarbon.
- Conducting training of field personnel from various research institutes and the assembly of pilot sampling units to refine the NFI field manual.
- Designing the NFI image for the identification of the teams in the territory, as well as for the developing of communication material. The logo and insignia for the field crews (e.g. caps and vests) were generated.
- Hiring the NFI technical team: social and IT professionals to generate digital forms and programming of digital devices for collecting field data, and a consultancy for undergoing quality control.
- Identifying species taxonomically, processing botanical specimens, collecting data in the field for the first sampling units established in 2016 and 2017, where the Colombian Association of Herbaria (ACH) led the process.
- Conducting the NFI Implementation Plan, in conjunction with the Colombian branch of the French Forest Organization. (ONF Andina)
- Facilitating and supporting the event, "Launching of the IFN of Colombia." (October 26, 2016).
- Publishing the Field Manual National Forest Inventory Colombia.
This support led the Colombian government to continue with NFI implementation in subsequent years. In 2022, the IDEAM signed an agreement with FAO Representation in Colombia to conclude the first cycle of NFI in the Andes and Caribbean regions.
Within the framework of this agreement, and in line with UN-REDD Programme Technical Assistance, the following activities were accomplished:
- Publication launch of “National Forest Inventories of Latin America and the Caribbean: Towards the harmonization of forest information,” in which Colombia participated.
- Trained field crews in mainstreaming the gender approach of the NFI.
- Established 110 sampling units and systematized the information generated.
- Supported the participation of IDEAM in the first face-to-face meeting of the Network of National Forest Inventories of Latin America and the Caribbean, developed in Panama City with the participation of 21 countries, obtaining approval of the statutes of the network, basic principles, activities and governance structure of the initiative.
- Implemented the communication strategy to socialize general aspects of NFI to a broader audience. This strategy highlighted: 1) the scope and generalities of NFI; 2) the campaign, “Behind a great fruit, there is a big tree,” with three short videos (Avocado, Soursop, Guava); and 3) the contribution of trees and NFI in the fight against climate change within the framework of the World Food Day
By 2023, we aim to:
- Conclude the survey of 297 sampling units in the Andean and Caribbean regions, where the country will achieve the development of the NFI baseline, obtaining results from the botanical collection, soil and litter samples, allowing the estimation of soil organic carbon and the taxonomic botanical identification of the samples collected.
- Release the cartoon character, CRAX, which represents the Colombian Curassow (Crax alberti), a critically endangered species due to deforestation, poaching and climate change. Crax is considered the second most important bird in Colombia after the condor of the Andes. The release will include: the miniseries, "I explain it to you with plasticine;" two plasticine workshops; and CRAX al Cine (free local movie screenings and national press, etc).
- Report the results of the baseline survey on gender aspects developed in the sampling units, including men and women between 14- and 84-years-old and representing local communities, Indigenous peoples and Afro-descendants.
The seeds of the UN-REDD National Programme in Colombia are bearing fruit, with the country close to completing its first NFI cycle, consolidating national capacity and other issues related to forest monitoring collaboratively, led by the IDEAM.
Adriana Patricia Yepes Quintero. Expert in REDD+ and Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) - REDD+/NFM Team for Latin America, FAO.
Nhaydú Bohórquez Expert in REDD+ and Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) - REDD+/NFM Team for Latin America, FAO.
María del Carmen Ruíz-Jaen, PhD. REDD+ Expert and REDD+ / NFM Team Coordinator for Latin America
With contributions from:
Lucio Andrés Santos Acuña. Forestry Officer, REDD+ Team, FAO
Carla Ramírez. FAO Regional Advisor on Forest Inventories and REDD+