Colombia’s Chiribiquete park to receive $1 million annually for at least 30 years

By Thomson Reuters Apr 25, 2024 | 4:44 PM

By Oliver Griffin

BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombia’s parks agency, the Frankfurt Zoological Society and German fund Legacy Landscapes on Thursday launched a financial mechanism to fund Chiribiquete National Park with $1 million each year for at least 30 years.

Chiribiquete, Colombia’s largest national park, is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The fund will pay toward the management of Chiribiquete and surrounding areas totaling some 66,708 square kilometers (25,756 square miles), a little over twice the size of the U.S. state of Maryland.

“The most valuable resources are continuous resources and resources that strengthen the state’s presence,” said Environment Minister Susana Muhamad, describing the fund as a milestone in international cooperation in Colombia.

While the fund will run for an initial 30 years, the hope is that it exists “in perpetuity,” the organizers said during an event at the Casa de Narino presidential palace also attended by Colombian President Gustavo Petro.

Chiribiquete is the jewel of Colombia’s Amazon region, spreading across two of the Andean country’s provinces and harboring multitudes of plant and animal species, according to the national parks agency (PNN).

However, like many other ecosystems in South America, the park faces the encroaching threat of deforestation, a phenomenon that tears down thousands of square kilometers of forest every year.

In 2022, Colombia lost 1,235 square kilometers of forest, much of that in the country’s Amazon region, according to the environment ministry.

The new fund will help monitor the protected area and build information on the park’s health, the organizers said, adding that the money will also help restore degraded areas of forest and strengthen governance.

“It’s a day for celebrating,” said Esperanza Leal Gomez, the Frankfurt Zoological Society’s director in Colombia. “It’s forever and we hope it never runs out.”

(Reporting by Oliver Griffin in Bogota; Editing by Matthew Lewis)