Gran Tierra’s Flagship Environmental Initiative in Collaboration with Conservation International
In 2017, Gran Tierra entered into a partnership with the NGO Conservation International, a non-government organization known for implementing and managing nature conservation projects around the world. Gran Tierra has committed to contributing USD $13 million over five years to a large scale reforestation and conservation project in the Putumayo.
NaturAmazonas is a key component of the Company’s efforts to help restore and to protect the Andes-Amazon corridor, one of the most biodiverse regions in the world. The project emphasizes Gran Tierra’s long-term commitment to responsible resource development as well as our firm belief that our activities and presence should coincide with a healthy environment and prosperous communities.
This initiative has been developed with the participation and support of the Colombia Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development as well as with the participation and support of CORPOAMAZONIA.
Benefits of local communities:
It is our hope that NaturAmazonas will benefit not only the natural environment but also will bring economic and social development to the Putumayo region in the Post Conflict era. NaturAmazonas has four major components to maximize its benefits for local communities in the Putumayo:
Inter-Agency Coordination to help develop partners for current and future conservation efforts
Knowledge Generation integrates participatory research and planning methods
Sustainable Production implements sustainable management schemes of natural forest ecosystems affected by human intervention
Socioeconomic identifies different alternative productive chains and sustainable enterprises
In 2019, Gran Tierra Energy announced it is expanding the NaturAmazonas project and partnership with Conservation International. This new project called Conservation and Prosperous Communities is designed to promote economic sustainability and conservation for rural communities in Putumayo.
Conservation and Prosperous Communities will include financial and technical support aimed at establishing sustainable agricultural practices, with connections to regional and national markets. This program will work to support family food security needs, all while developing zoning areas for forest conservation and restoration activities.
NaturAmazonas Conservation and Prosperous Communities Goals
270 hectares of Agroforestry Systems (AFS) including crops that will provide short and long term benefits to communities
140+ direct employment opportunities will be created within local communities
1,000 people will have improved food security and increased income
Local residents have been hired to make hundreds of expeditions deep into the Piedmont, collecting and categorizing over 10,000 specimens of native plants. Called “Guardians of Botanical Knowledge,” these residents are at the same time building their knowledge about the native plants and contributing to the creation of important mapping of the botanical make-up of the forest in their areas. New species of plants, including some that are at risk, have been discovered by the Guardians.
“The Guardians of Knowledge program has been very important in providing income and also learning about our environment. In our organization we have 89 women from three townships. In this area we have a lot of natural resources but not much income, so we are looking to preserve our environment but also generate income.”SANDRA MILENA PISO CAMAYO, President of the Women’s Organization AMNUOC
“The economy here used to revolve around harvesting wood. Now the community is very focused on preservation and environmental protection. Youngsters are now taking leadership roles in protecting the environment, which is excellent.”ILBER ANDRES NAVRA
Botanical Health Development Through Beekeeping
Thousands of bees swarm around unprotected beekeepers, who are not concerned because these are stingless bees, native to this part of the Amazon rainforest. It had previously been illegal in Colombia to cultivate stingless bees, but NaturAmazonas worked with the Colombian authorities to change the regulations to allow local people to engage in this important line of sustainable production. The bees pollinate plants and trees, supporting reforestation and contributing to botanical health while also producing honey for the farmers—a valuable, durable commodity with appeal in both local and national markets.
There is a high demand for stingless bee syrups, which have a number of different flavors, and keepers can also rent the bees out to local farmers for pollination, providing yet another stream of income. The association of beekeepers grew significantly in 2018, with 150 current members having been trained and certified, and 200 waiting to join. Participants are selected based on the optimal distribution of bees and trees for future reforestation. The beekeepers have planted over 30,000 trees on over 30 hectares in 2018 alone.
“I am one of the people who were trained to strengthen our traditional knowledge of beekeeping. This project allows us to work with the Indigenous bee species. Because the bees want to create more honey, they need more pollen, so they are helping more plants grow in the area. This has been marvelous; we have fallen in love with the bees and know how to attract them naturally instead of cutting trees down to get them.”JULIANA RICO, Beekeeper
As part of this project, an innovative wood-fired stove was developed for use in rural areas without reliable access to electricity. In these areas, trees are frequently cut down for household heating, cooking and lighting. The stoves, which are portable, are 60% more efficient than open wood burning with less emissions. The latest version also generates a steady three volt current which can charge mobile phones and power 10 lights for three hours – a significant benefit for these communities. More than 100 families have received these stoves to date. The project is now looking at how to scale up the distribution of the stoves.