EL ESPECTADOR, October 9, 2023

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

This UNESCO list is key for the protection of ecosystems all over the world, and the Darién of Chocó could make up part of it as an initiative for mitigating climate change and for preserving its biodiversity.

Colombia’s Ministry of Foreign Relations, headed by Álvaro Leyva, has nominated the Darién of Northern Chocó to be part of UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves. Those reserves are areas protected at the international level to demonstrate a balanced relationship between people and nature.

In 2022, the total number of members had reached 738 biosphere reserves in 134 countries. Colombia already had some protected areas, such as the Sierra Nevada in Santa Marta, and El Nevado in Huila Department. Now, with Darién of Chocó, the list would be augmented.

The initiative for adding this territory to the UNESCO list is supported by organizations like Codechocó[1], the Ministry of Environment, and the nearly ten ethnic communities that dwell or are present in the area.

“This is an effort that has come out of the communities and the regional authorities, and has the support of some national entities. Several indigenous reservations and Afro-Colombian communities, together with their community councils, are involved with this Biosphere Reserve,” said the Vice Minister for Multilateral Issues, Elizabeth Taylor Jay.

The Vice Minister also emphasized that the Northern Darién is one of the parts with the greatest biodiversity in the country, where there is also a national park, as well as two Districts being managed regionally, and a large forest reserve.

What are the characteristics of the Darién of Chocó?

In the heart of the Darién of Chocó is found the Northern Chocó Biosphere Reserve, which extends for 301,625.46 hectares in Colombia, with 185,371.5 hectares on land and 116,254 of ocean.

Species living there include, the puma, the manatee, the tapir, and the hawksbill sea turtle (Carey turtle), whose presence is essential for the balance of the ecosystems.

For now, Vice Minister Taylor has said that she expects the nomination to aid in the mitigation and adaptation of Colombia to climate change. She also stressed that this would help with the implementation of more robust and inclusive social and environmental mechanisms of regional government.

This biosphere reserve will complement an effort being put forth by Panamá, which has already declared its Biosphere Reserve in its part of the Darién.

“With this new biosphere reserve by Colombia, the whole cycle would be completed, and UNESCO would be pleased to have Reserves where countries could join together. That would permit biological and ecosystem connectivity in a manner that’s permanent. It’s definitely one of the cases that UNESCO will take into consideration in the future, so that the two countries can have a potential Trans-Border Biosphere Reserve,” Taylor concluded.

[1] Codechocó: Regional Autonomous Corporation for the Sustainable Development of Chocó.

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