Fundación ProAves – por la conservación en el país de las aves

Two women from Popayán lead a conservation movement for species in different ecosystems of Colombia; this is their story.

12 February, 2024


A mother and daughter spearhead a project to protect and conserve Colombian bird species with a gender-focused approach.

Sara Inés Lara Hernández and Isabella Cortés Lara are mother and daughter. They are united by the same cause: conservation, and are driven by their love for nature, birds, and the care of the living treasures of our country.

The calling that has led these two women to distant places to share and lead environmental causes for the benefit of wildlife protection is linked to this territory, to Cauca, considered the department of birds, as it hosts more than 1,200 species. One of them is the Eriocnemis Isabellae hummingbird or Pinche Zamarrito, an endemic species of the Pinche mountain range, whose name honors Isabella Cortés Lara.

They treasure in their hearts the indelible heritage of that white city nestled between the mountain ranges of southwestern Colombia, renowned for its colonial architecture, religious traditions, and the lush vegetation that surrounds it.

They are courageous women who found in the preservation of ecosystems a path towards environmental consciousness, a way of living and experiencing environments through education and respect, ensuring their present and future balance.

They decided to embark hand in hand with the ProAves Foundation on the apostolate of conserving endangered species and the use of biodiversity in Colombia, with an additional gender component: women as agents of change.

“It is vital that women play an active role in conservation, so we encourage all women who want to be guardians and protectors of nature to take on the beautiful challenge of caring for the most valuable treasure we have on the planet, the environment and its species,” says Sara Lara, Executive Director of ProAves.

To date, more than 5,900 individuals have received training on species conservation and their habitats. Additionally, over 1,600 women have participated in workshops on sustainable economic opportunities, aimed at improving their skills in ecotourism, culinary arts, and the sale of traditional crafts in different regions such as the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in Magdalena, El Carmen de Atrato in Chocó, Puerto Pinzón in Boyacá, Mapiripán in Meta, Anorí and Jardín in Antioquia, San Vicente de Chucurí in Santander, among other territories, following the pandemic.

“Women transform communities; working with them, empowering them, accompanying them in the development of their microbusinesses, in line with sustainable living, fills me with great satisfaction. More than 1,200 people, including men and women, have accessed our responsible family planning program, which includes procedures such as implants, tubal ligations, and vasectomies,” says Isabella Cortés Lara, Executive Director of Women for Conservation.

Sara Inés Lara is internationally recognized as one of the leading women in conservation. She shares the experience gained from over two decades of work with communities, spreading the message of urgency to preserve the environment in important forums such as the “ForWomenInScience” forum – Foundation L’Oréal-Unesco.

Meanwhile, her daughter Isabella, representing the new generations, leads processes of transforming environmental consciousness and remains unwavering in her intention to bridge the scientific world with conservation through art, creating educational strategies for environmental awareness such as RanaChiva, which was recently highlighted at the 12th World Congress of Environmental Education in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

These two Colombian women continue to pave the way for many others who, like them, are aware of the immense value of the natural treasures our country possesses.