Conservation on Private Lands Integrating Sustainable Production and Biodiversity in the Mid Dagua River Basin, Colombia



  • Corporación Ambiental y Forestal del Pacífico (CORFOPAL); Social and Environmental Sense (SENSE)


  • 30/10/2018


  • South America


  • Colombia (Dagua, Valle del Cauca Province)


  • The main problem in the Mid Dagua River Basin (MDRB) is the loss of natural cover and ecosystem services associated with the Dagua River, due to agricultural expansion, planting of clean crops such as pineapple, and ranching. Data collected since 2013 indicate the relevance of the ecosystem services offered by the MDRB to economic development in the region and human well-being; however, lack of financial resources has inhibited conservation actions in these agricultural landscapes. In response to this problem, Corporación Ambiental y Forestal del Pacifico (CORFOPAL) have worked with the community of the MDRB, with the objective of linking nature conservation to the enhancement of human well-being, by developing a participatory process of intervention favouring the improvement of the environment, sustainable production and the promotion of private conservation. Thus, this case study presents a summary of the conservation actions implemented in the MDRB, as well as the participatory management associated with the conversion of private land into natural reserves of civil society (NRCS) as a strategy to guarantee the sustainable conservation of natural resources. The NRCS is a voluntary process whereby the owner of a private farm linked to conservation processes turns his or her property into a Protected Area (recognized by the Colombian government), but keeps the land titles and private property rights. The registration process is accompanied by training workshops and incentives to maintain natural areas, giving us the opportunity to work directly with producers (farmers, ranchers, and others) and landowners to integrate conservation and production on the same piece of land. As a result, we have registered 13 NRCS and signed 20 conservation agreements with private landowners, hence establishing a corridor that connects the territory in several aspects, links private landowners with protected areas, and contributes to the conservation of the biodiversity reported for the region (261 species of flora, 102 species of resident birds, 26 species of amphibians and reptiles and 27 species of mammals). In addition, there has been an improvement in community participation in conservation and environmentally-friendly activities. Overall, inhabitants have become more aware of the importance of conservation and more committed to sustainable production practices, which ought to help them be more independent and have better opportunities in a growing green market.


  • Protected areas, conservation strategies, natural reserves of civil society, community participation, private landowners


  • Sebastian Orjuela-Salazar (CORFOPAL), Andrés Quintero-Ángel (CORFOPAL)

Summary Sheet

The summary sheet for this case study is available here.


The processes of appropriation and transformation of natural resources through human development to satisfy development needs and desires (Toledo 2008) has generated the gradual depletion of ecosystem services, reaching the upper limits of the load capacity of the planet (Vásquez & Serrano 2009). The forms of intrusion into ecosystems and subsequent environmental degradation have varied over time and have been influenced by cultural systems, social organization and economic bases, as well as by variables of the environment, such as biotic and abiotic factors and their complex relationships.

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