Transforming agriculture to protect Colombian forests


Zapatoca, Colombia

About the project:

In Colombia’s Zapatoca municipality, the El Ramo and La Zapatoca microbasins are a critical source of water for local residents. The surrounding forests help to filter the water and ensure a steady supply, and the region's ecological corridors are home to countless native flora and fauna. But this area is under threat – farmers often clear the trees to make room for more farmland and pasture, degrading the land and putting their own water supply at risk.

To protect these critical microbasins and promote sustainable management of the area, Initiative 20x20 partner Fundación Natura is implementing a Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) program for local residents. This program incentivizes farmers to conserve the forests of El Ramo and La Zapatoca, investing in their properties to improve existing agricultural systems. The farmers are also trained to implement more sustainable agricultural practices and food systems.

Thanks to this PES scheme, 470 hectares of land have been conserved and 50 hectares of grasslands and cold-loving fruit trees have transitioned to sustainable production systems so far. Fundación Natura has also worked to let 30 hectares of land naturally regenerate, helping plants return and wildlife flourish and improving the supply and quality of local residents' water. By shifting incentive structures to support farmers, Fundación Natura has shown that agriculture does not have to come at the cost of forests.

Investment type


Avoided degradation and deforestationLow-carbon agricultureReforestation

Media contact:

Sandra Galán, Project Officer, Fundación Natura,