Year after year the campaign has been strengthened by support from many partners. This year the campaign is again led by ProAves with strong support coming from the District Department of Environment, Episcopal, Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran churches, the National Police through the Directorate of Rural Security, Jardineros Ltda., Animalist Policy Caucus, the Plataforma ALTO, the Parroquia Niño Jesús – 20 de julio, and the Mayors of the towns of Génova, Quindío, Jardín, Antioquia and Roncesvalles, Department of Tolima.
From the 25th of March to the 2nd of April the 11th annual campaign Reconcile with Nature, will be held at the national level. This national campaign aims to raise awareness and engage the Colombian community as a whole to contribute and participate in activities to preserve our natural resources. We urge the Colombian community during this Holy Week to not use the branches or any part of the wax palm and instead to use live plants or sweet corn husks.
Training Session and Launch
On March 25th, the Sunday before Palm Sunday, there will be a religious celebration at the open-air temple of Simon Bolivar Metropolitan Park at 11 am, in Bogotá, with Monsignor Carlos Julio Ramirez Lopez presiding. This celebration is an urgent call to the Catholic community to understand the imperative and necessity of preserving our natural resources, and especially the Quindio wax palm, a palm listed as Critically Endangered and the only habitat of the Endangered Yellow-eared parrot.
The training session event will take place on March 27th at 7 am in the Auditorium of San Francisco de Sales located on the premises of the Salesian School. Juan Del Rizzo, of the district of 20 de Julio in Bogotá will lead the performance of the Symphony Orchestra of the same school.
A small official ceremony will begin the campaign and will train about 1400 people in the making of branches using the guidance of 30 artists invited by the Niño Jesús of the 20 de Julio district school and trained by the District Department of Environment to train people in a new way to celebrate Palm Sunday without wax palms. This training will provide a productive alternative to sector traders in the use of other materials and Jardineros Ltda. will donate 300 Areca Palms for the two activities, all in order to mitigate the impact of religious celebrations on the environment.
The Yellow-eared Parrot (Ognorhynchus icterotis) is an Andean parrot about 42 cm long as an adult. It has gregarious habits, makes long-distance flights and is completely dependent on the Quindío wax palm, on which it feeds, roosts and nests. Today it is the most endangered species of parrot in Colombia, due mainly to habitat destruction, hunting pressure and because of its restricted distribution, which makes it even more vulnerable to the threats. Through the success of the campaign and education the parrot is now categorized as Endangered (EN) after the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) downgraded its threat category from Critically Endangered (CR) in 2010.
The Quindio wax palm (Ceroxylum quindiuense) is currently critically endangered and is cut to adorn churches and to be carried during Palm Sunday processions. Unfortunately, the palm takes many decades to mature and is critical for the survival of the Yellow-eared Parrot.
Results of the campaign and direct conservation activities
During the last 10 campaigns, alliances have been established with the Catholic Church and various environmental organizations at the local and national level. Efforts have tended to concentrate on enhancing advocacy in different regions of the country. Much success has resulted due to these efforts, and this is reflected in the increasing protection and conservation of the two endangered species that are the centerpieces of this campaign.
These results have been generated by significant conservation and education efforts carried out directly by Fundación ProAvesin Tolima, Antioquia and Quindío, and the main towns where the yellow-eared parrot and Quindio wax palm can be found. These efforts have undeniably contributed to the increase in numbers of this species, from 80 individuals in 1998 to over 1000 today. These efforts have resulted in the downgrading in the threat category for the Parrot which was achieved in 2010. Moreover, in Roncesvalles, Tolima, the Festival of the Yellow-eared Parrot and Wax Palm have been institutionalized as a celebration of the local culture in the town of Jardín, Antioquia. The Yellow-eared parrot is now even included within the municipal coat of arms.
The efforts of ProAves include several conservation and reforestation programs along with the placement of artificial nests, conservation easements and environmental education campaigns throughout the country.
Among other significant contributions to the conservation of the Quindio wax palm is that of the District Department of Environment which, with their skills, have made a progressive replacement of the traditional bouquet of wax palm leaves with sweet corn husks provided by the company Jardineros Ltda. Year after year they have donated more than 5000 seedlings of alternative species such as Areca palm for use during Palm Sunday celebrations.
Brief history of the campaign
Since 1998, the campaign has been strongly supported by Loro Parque Foundation, after the rediscovery of the species by Alonso Quevedo, the now general manager of ProAves. Noting the intensive use of this wax palm in the celebrations of Palm Sunday in the Town of Jardín, department of Antioquia, the Reconcile with Nature campaign was founded in 2001 by Conservation International and later the Episcopal Conference and the Ministry of Environment with conservation efforts being undertaken by ProAves.
Since then, the Reconcile with Nature campaign has been carried out continuously at the local and national level for 11 years.