Fundación Biodiversa Colombia


Status of registration

Fundación Biodiversa Colombia (FBC) is registered as a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization (NGO) at the Chamber of Commerce of Bogotá (La Cámara de Comercio de Bogotá) in Colombia.

Governance and management structure of the group

The foundation is run by our president (Fernando Arbeláez), who reports to a board of directors composed of nine people. Management decisions are made at this level. There are also three administrative staff, including our forest guard, and 11 associated researchers who are involved in various projects. All, except administrative staff, are volunteers. Every year an external auditor verifies our annual financial report and accounting and certifies that it complies with Colombian regulations. We are also under the supervision of the Department of Legal Entities of the City Hall of Bogotá, to which we report annually. We provide periodic and detailed technical and financial reports to our donors, who can attest to our sound financial management and reliability.

Exact location, including geographic coordinates

N 06°48’12.81″ W 074°12’14.23″ Our private reserve, El Silencio Natural Reserve and Research Station, and the neighbouring farms we aim to purchase are located in the Barbacoas District Management Reserve in the Yondó Municipality, Antioquia, Colombia, in the lowlands of the Middle Magdalena Valley (MMV).

Expansion El Silencio TiME

Short description of the area and the land to be purchased

The 3,023 hectares of the neighbouring area, Rancho Verde, includes 1,500 hectares of well-preserved forest and some of the largest forest patches in the Barbacoas region, embedded among cattle pastures and wetlands. The ranch also borders the Eastern lake of Barbacoas. The Critically Endangered Brown spider monkeys and Blue-billed curassow are common in the area, as well as other important animal and plant species. We aim to create a core natural refuge area by increasing the connectivity of isolated forest patches.

Main threats

The main threat to the area is deforestation for cattle rearing. Deforestation also causes the drying of wetlands, soil erosion and poorer water retention in the region after rainfall. In 2010 our studies suggested that at the ongoing deforestation rate, the remaining forests of Barbacoas would disappear by 2025. Despite our positive influence in the area, deforestation is still a major threat. It is therefore critical to protect conservation habitat and continue strengthening our presence in the area.

While the current land owners of Rancho Verde signed a voluntary agreement to conserve the remaining forests, there are no guarantees that new owners would comply. Most likely these last remaining large forest patches of the Barbacoas region would be transformed into pastures; therefore threatened and endemic local populations and biodiversity would vanish.

Estimated value ($) of a single hectare (average)


Long-term conservation plan for the purchased land

Sustainability endowment fund: We aim to create an endowment fund to generate revenues to contribute to the maintenance of the new reserve (see Itemized costs below). This fund will be governed by an operational manual and a board for decision-making. The fund will be invested in a low-risk financial product (such as Term Deposit Certificates in Colombia) that can produce yearly revenues and with a bank or financial organization that can guarantee social and environmental accountability. For example, Opportunity International Colombia currently offers a 10.5% annual interest rate for 180 days TDC.

Ecotourism: An expansion to the reserve makes it much more interesting as an eco-tourist destination, especially if we gain a lake shoreline. Tourists can then reach the reserve directly by boat from the nearby town of Puerto Berrío, itself an adventurous tour on the Magdalena river, past the islands of the Barbacoas lakes, with an amazing abundance of bird life and the odd manatee. Tourists would enjoy excursions into the forest, as well as ecofriendly boat excursions (e.g., canoe trips). Such development needs to be done in collaboration with the local community in order to generate employment opportunities and limit the impact on the environment.

Visiting researchers: A larger reserve will also be of greater interest to national and international researchers, such as primatologists or ornithologists, as it will open up a relatively large area of well-preserved forest (1,200 ha). A stable group of resident researchers, or ones that return on a regular basis, is a reliable source of income. At present we have arrangements for researchers with students to visit the reserve, and we expect that such arrangements could be expanded.

Sustainable productive practices: We aim to conduct research on sustainable productive practices (including sustainable agroforestry, nontimber products and silvopastoral systems) not only as demonstration pilots for local landowners but also to generate income for the reserve while restoring the soils, protecting water courses and promoting biodiversity.

Friends of El Silencio: We will set up a fundraising scheme, where the public can become “friends” of the reserve for a monthly fee, endowing them with benefits (e.g., a number of free nights at the reserve). We can set this up as tax-deductible, which is especially attractive for companies.

Payment for environmental goods and services, including carbon capture: One of the objectives of FBC is to develop incentives for conservation and sustainable practices for large landowners. We have been discussing with the municipality the possibility of creating tax exemptions for conservation, and we recently applied to an initiative of ISA (the largest electricity transportation company in Colombia) to certify carbon initiatives of conservation and reforestation for the voluntary carbon market.