Protection of forests and the climate (REDD+)

Project description

Title: Protection of forests and the climate/REDD+
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Colombia
Partner organisation: Agencia Presidencial de Cooperación Internacional de Colombia (APC)
Overall term: 2013 to 2018

More than half of Colombia, an area of about 59 million hectares, is covered by forests. However, between 1990 and 2012, the country lost around seven million hectares, or 12 per cent, of its forest cover. This loss was in large part due to the expansion of agricultural production areas and pastures, the illicit cultivation of drugs, illegal logging, and both legal and illegal mining activities.

In order to address these challenges, the Colombian Government is developing a national strategy to reduce deforestation and minimise forest degradation (ENREDD+). This strategy has been embedded within a comprehensive framework that includes Colombia’s national climate strategy, obligations related to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the international processes for establishing the REDD+ mechanism.

The basic idea behind REDD+ is to provide governments and local communities with financial incentives to verifiably reduce deforestation practices and, in turn, CO2 emissions. This includes promoting reforestation measures and sustainable forestry practices, as these make an important contribution to increasing biomass from forests and to decreasing emissions.

Colombia’s Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development implements the national REDD+ strategy.

The programme provides support to Colombia’s Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development in drafting and implementing its national REDD+ strategy as well as in preparing the way for the REDD+ mechanism.

Pilot measures are testing how sustainable forestry practices performed in forests that are affected or threatened by deforestation and degradation can contribute to lowering emissions. These pilot projects combine methodological approaches from REDD+ with practical approaches, for example the productive use of non-wood resources such as assai berries, nuts used for extracting cosmetic oils, and cocoa.

The programme is analysing the causes of deforestation in the northern Andes and in the Amazon region and is developing policy recommendations to address them. The Colombian Government is subsequently integrating these recommendations within national, regional and local strategies.

In cooperation with the Colombian Ministry of Environment and civil society actors, the programme is developing a series of guidelines and environmental standards, referred to as ‘safeguards’, which are to be put into practice through the REDD+ process. These safeguards are designed to prevent the occurrence of negative environmental and social impacts that may arise from REDD+ activities.

The programme supports the Colombian Government in systematically monitoring and evaluating the progress it is making to develop and implement the national REDD+ strategy as well as the associated impacts.


The programme has promoted dialogue between the Colombian Ministry of Environment and all relevant REDD+ actors in the Amazon and the Pacific Coast regions. This has included holding workshops with indigenous communities as well as with smallholder farmers, Afro-Colombians and representatives of regional institutions. These workshops enabled participants to voice their opinions and pose questions about REDD+ and to discuss the opportunities, such as possible investment areas for REDD+ funds, as well as the risks, such as altered forest-use regulations, associated with the mechanism. These exchanges have led to the creation of concrete recommendations for carrying out further dialogue and developing regional communication strategies for REDD+.

The programme has facilitated the establishment of coordination meetings to address forest use and protection, referred to as Mesas Forestales. These meetings have improved communication among state and non-state actors as well as between the government and actors at provincial and community level. A stable, systematic process is now in place that aids decision-making on all matters related to REDD+.

In cooperation with the Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies in Colombia (Instituto de Hidrología, Meteorología y Estudios Ambientales), the programme has developed a methodological guide for designing studies that investigate the causes and the perpetrators of deforestation. This now allows the driving forces behind deforestation to be analysed within specific regions and also compared nationwide. To date, studies have been carried out for the two regions of Santander and Norte de Santander and the findings have been incorporated into both policy recommendations and regional strategies. The programme team has worked with the Sinchi Amazonic Institute of Scientific Research to systematise the studies performed by the institute. Using these findings, the programme has provided support for developing regional and territorial development plans in the regions Santander, Norte de Santander, Guaviare, Caquetá, Putumayo, and Meta. These plans incorporate specific measures for reducing deforestation.
Colombia. Participants at a workshop on evaluating the social and environmental aspects of REDD+ in the Vaupés Department in the Amazon. © GIZ


Rhena Hoffmann