Native forest

One of the greatest challenges facing the population of Norte del Cauca in Colombia is the depletion of the land and its productivity. The predominance of sugar cane monoculture threatens traditional farms and has forced peasants to lease their land to the sugar mills. So many years of monoculture have diminished the fertility and productive capacity of the soil. The situation has also had a negative effect on family finances, eating habits and social relationships.

On that basis, FUNDAEC decided to focus on investigating and learning about the restoration of the region's land and promote an educational process that would help raise awareness in the population about the importance of preserving the environment and practicing sustainable agriculture. This initiative is based on FUNDAEC's experience of more than four decades in the region, which has resulted in educational efforts aimed at helping local populations become protagonists of the development of their communities.


In 2012, FUNDAEC designed a project on a 11.5-hectare plot of land in the municipality of Villa Rica with the participation of local institutions and inhabitants to plant native species from the area and establish a tropical dry forest. This was the beginning of a process of reforestation with native flora, including several endangered species, and the development of educational materials for the local population.


The objectives of the project are:

Restoration: Restore an area of 11.5 hectares with native flora species from the Norte del Cauca area.

Demostration: Offer an example to farmers and students from the region of how their lands can be restored and maintained.

Education: Preserve traditional knowledge and raise awareness among young people and children from nearby communities about the importance of conserving the environment and being familiar with the species of the region.

Distribution: Ensure that the area’s inhabitants have access to diverse seeds and native species from a community nursery.

Recreation: Provide a space where visitors can reflect and deepen their appreciation for nature and the attributes of God that are present there.

Through visits to traditional farms in the region, supported by a biologist and prominent farmers, more than 100 native species were identified and an environmental management plan was implemented. It describes measures to reduce or control the depletion of the land and its restoration at the project site. Worth noting was the significant participation of area communities in land restoration mingas — a traditional practice where individuals join forces to work towards a common goal. To date, more than 1,000 seedlings have been donated to the project by area residents, including some 20 different botanical families, some of which are classified as endangered species.

Environmental action groups are being formed in the project, composed of community members who receive training about tropical dry forests and their restoration, and they share knowledge with each other regarding the restoration of native species. It is hoped that each group will take responsibility for a 100 square meter plot at the project site, so that later they can use the experience gained to restore their own land.