Colombia’s ecosystems are being compromised, and biodiversity is being threatened by habitat fragmentation and destruction. In recent years, deforestation in Colombia has more than doubled, and climate change is beginning to exacerbate these issues through changes in precipitation and the frequency and severity of extreme events like droughts or floods.
Through the USAID Biodiversity — Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (Bio-REDD+) project, Chemonics is helping reinforce Colombian efforts to sustainably manage and use environmental assets through mitigating and adapting to climate change, preserving biodiversity, and promoting formalization and legalization of artisanal gold mining.
The project is enabling the Colombian government — in collaboration with local communities, local nongovernmental organizations, and private sector investors — to sustainably protect and manage the country’s biodiversity, ecosystem services, and natural resources, while it implements low-carbon and carbon reduction plans toward mitigating emissions of climate change gases. Bio-REDD+ has developed an approach where forest conservation and issuing carbon credits is linked to income generating activities and biodiversity management.
The project is working with four mining companies — Mineros, Grand Colombia Gold, Grupo de Bullet, and Minatura International — to formalize artisanal mining production, mitigate environmental degradation, and strengthen government oversight and monitoring. To date, the project has facilitated 60 contracts between the four companies and 15 artisanal mining associations to formalize activities around concessions. It has also trained more than 150 small miners in improved technologies that will increase gold recovery by 15 percent and reduce mercury use by 90 percent. Such efforts will improve rural livelihoods while mitigating environmental degradation.