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The importance of forests for Afro and indigenous communities in Colombia

There are more than 24 communities, between Afro-descendants and indigenous people, who work in association with BIOFIX in the process of forest conservation in Colombia, and their worldview about these ecosystems gives more and more value to the work carried out in their territories focused on the cultural survival and its natural resources.


It is important to know the vision of the communities to have a deeper idea about what the forests represent and what they provide to the families that inhabit them.


Through REDD + projects, whose general objective is to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, ethnic families in Colombia have also found within their implementation actions aimed at improving their conditions and quality of life, as well as guaranteeing land tenure, strengthening territorial governance and promoting gender equality.


Protective communities of forests


Currently, BIOFIX has seven projects in execution involving 24 communities that care for and protect the forests in which they live. These communities are divided into 16 Indigenous Reservations of the Sikuani, Piapoco, Puinave and Curripaco peoples located in the departments of Vichada, Guainía and Guaviare and 8 Community Councils located in the departments of Chocó, Cauca and Valle del Cauca. As well as a mitigation initiative developed by private owners.


The leaders of these communities are committed to the conservation of the territories in which they live, in the form of gratitude for all the benefits they can obtain from the forests.


You may also like: How forest owners and custodians benefit from REDD + projects



Why are forests important to these communities?


For Community Councils


For Felipa Murillo, president of the Greater Juradó Community Council, Los Marlin, and part of the community belonging to the COCOMAN FRONTERA REDD + Project located in Novita and Juradó, Chocó, forests are a beautiful ecosystem and are significant for their community.

“There are many trees that serve as habitat for varieties of animal species and that also serve for human subsistence. That is why we are committed to care, protection and reasonable use ”.



Tulio Antonio, Legal Representative of the Community Council of Nóvita, Chocó, is also part of this project and for him “The forest is protection, it is health, it is a source of life that allows us to breathe fresh air, conserve our rivers and live in a Nice weather. The forest really is everything ”.




Another REDD + project developed in Chocó, specifically in Bahía Solano and Juradó, is DELFINES CUPICA REDD +; Gustavo Palacio, one of the members of this project and Coordinator of the Territory Table of the Delfines Community Council, affirms that forests are life because: “Many species coexist in it, from which we extract some for our food. From the forest we get firewood to cook our food and we get all the materials to build our houses. In the forest we do cultural activities and species sighting. The forest means everything to us ”.



The Legal Representative of the Cupica Community Council, Isaac Lozano, who is also part of this project, says that for him forests have a deep cultural meaning. “For us the forest is life, it is health, it is survival and culture. The forest means natural and economic resources ”.


For Felipe Angulo Sanclemente, Legal Representative of the Naya River Community Council, belonging to the NAYA REDD + Project in Buenaventura, Valle del Cauca, the forest goes beyond the space to extract wood and make use of other resources. "It is the living space, it is part of the joy and freedom of the communities."


Indigenous reservations


Fernando Suárez, Governor's Council and Legal Representative of the Saracure Indigenous Reservation, Río Cadá, and member of the KALIAWIRI REDD + Project in Cumaribo, Vichada, assures that: “The forest represents an important ecosystem and is a source where man uses resources according to your needs".


In the BANAKALE REDD + project in Tuparro and Llanura, Vichada, Rut Zuluaga, who in addition to being part of this project belongs to the Santa Teresita Reservation of the Piratupuyo ethnic group, on behalf of his community affirms that:

"For us, forests are important because they generate oxygen, they generate life since from here we can extract some medicinal plants, fruit trees and timber that we use to improve our homes."

For this reason, this indigenous people helps to conserve, recover and restore these forests.


Felipe Wilson Arias, Governor's Council of the La Llanura Indigenous Reservation, an autonomous community belonging to this project, assures that: "The forests mean a means of subsistence because they produce oxygen and we are interacting with mother earth." In addition, he affirms that: “for that reason, as indigenous peoples, we are part of nature and we are forests”.


Anderson Lozano Gaitán from the Río Muco and Guarrojo Resguardo, from the Tierra Blanca community, belonging to the Sikuani ethnic group and a member of the PALAMEKU KUWEI REDD + project in Cumaribo, Vichada, says that his community defends and protects the forests in their territory because that is what they learned of their ancestors:


"It is a legacy that our shamans, parents and grandparents have left us and for this reason we continue with the protection of the forests, because they are the support of the earth and because without forests and without water we cannot live."






Finally, for Esaú Ramírez Castro, Legal Representative of the Morichal Viejo Indigenous Reserve, Santa Rosa, among others, where the YAAWI IIPANNA REDD + project is developed, forests represent the territory where they live and how they relate to nature:


“It is what our ancestors have inherited from us for millennia. Forests are very important to us because it is where we find traditional medicine and food ”.


Learn more about our projects here: https://www.biofix.co/portafolio





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