Valle del Cauca, Tolima, and Antioquia, Colombia
About the project:
In the Colombian departments of Valle del Cauca, Tolima, and Antioquia, vast watersheds stretch across the land. Many of them feed into the municipal and village aqueducts of the region, providing millions of people with fresh water each day. Much of this land, however, has faced degradation due to human activity like extensive cattle ranching and deforestation. With fewer trees around to regulate the flow of water and filter out sediment, these departments face a great risk of water strain.
To restore these catchments and safeguard the area’s water supply, Colombian energy company Celsia established the ReverdeC restoration investment program. Its ultimate goal is to grow ten million trees in the region by 2025. By restoring watersheds with native trees, the program aims to strengthen water regulation and filtration, increase water flow, reconnect forest corridors, and protect biodiversity.
In order to maximize impact, ReverdeC carries out an initial survey to evaluate restoration areas according to their environmental and social importance. Land that requires active restoration techniques or supplies nearby aqueducts is prioritized, as well as any forest corridors that have been degraded by human activity. Project areas will generally have baseline characteristics like erosion, a lack of vegetation cover, deforestation, and a greater need for enrichment with native species. ReverdeC then selects and cultivates native species in its own nurseries, which house 1,500,000 seedlings a year with the potential to expand in the future. The program is also helping biodiversity to thrive again: of the numerous tree species it grows, 9 are currently classified as endangered.
ReverdeC recognizes that local communities are the crux of successful restoration. That’s why it begins each project with a social mapping exercise to identify stakeholders and give them a seat at the table. From small landowners to aqueduct administration boards, ReverdeC invites community members at all levels to share their understanding of the local land and define concrete goals for each restoration site. Local residents also make up 100% of the program’s workforce and suppliers. When people who know the land are actively involved in the planning process, they help ensure that the trees they plant continue to thrive in the long term.
After many years of work, ReverdeC has learned much from its experiences and now boasts a planting capacity of 3 or 4 million trees per year. As of October 2021, the program has restored 4,526 hectares of land and planted 7.4 million trees across 34 basins. ReverdeC aims to become a platform that can unite organizations around the same goal: regreening the ecosystems of Colombia.