Critical new protection for Serranía de las Quinchas
Tuesday 11 August 2009.
The 700 mile-long Magdalena river basin once held a lush carpet of lowland rainforest encircled by the mighty Central and Eastern Cordillera mountain ranges. This isolated rainforest have been a biological melting pot, influenced by the flora and fauna from neighboring regions like the Amazon that has given rise to a rich assemblage of biodiversity with an exceptional diversity of endemic flora and fauna, like the Blue-billed Curassow Crax alberti and Magdalena Spider Monkey Ateles hybridus. Tragically, intensive colonization across the region continues unabated and has resulted in the elimination of nearly ten million acres for ranching, coca plantations and other activities, while many of the region’s endemic species are now critically endangered.
The Serranía de las Quinchas, on the border between the Boyacá and Santander departments and located just 85 miles north of the capital Bogotá, represents one of the last opportunities to safeguard a critical area of Magdalena valley rainforest. In 2003, ProAves acquired a number of properties to consolidate the 3,678 acre El Paujil Nature reserve – the first protected area of Magdalena lowland rainforest. The site was declared an Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) site in 2005 as it held the population stronghold for the Blue-billed Curassow. ProAves also started a threatened species research program and engaged local communities in sustainable development and outreach activities around the reserve. However, forests surrounding the reserve were being clearing to sell timber and establish illicit coca plantations and pasturelands.
Since 2008, ProAves has been working with American Bird Conservancy and World Land Trust to urgently acquire and protect additional properties from loggers that surround the reserve to ensure viable populations of the most endangered species. In recent months, we are pleased to have acquired six strategic private properties totaling 3,356 acres, from loggers and coca farmers, to almost double the size of the Paujil Nature Reserve. The expanded reserve includes over 400 acres of pasturelands requiring reforestation as well as some of the most intact primary forest surviving in the Magdalena valley of Colombia. With three forest guards and reserve Director supported by BirdLife International, the Paujil Reserve is now 6,935 acres and protects in perpetuity an estimated at over 100 pairs of the Critically Endangered Blue-billed Curassow as well as stronghold populations of the Magdalena Spider Monkey, Jaguar, Spectacled Bear and extremely rare Magdalena race of the Lowland Tapir Tapirus terrestris columbianus.
However, it remains critical to continue acquiring private properties around the Paujil reserve as deforestation rates are as high as 6.8% per annum and represents some the planets most imperiled rainforest species and habitat. Land prices are approximately $50 per acre. Please support us to save endangered rainforest today and receive a certificate for every two acres you save.