Protecting the Orinoco river basin in Colombia

Project description

Title: Consideration of ecosystem services in the regional planning of the Orinoco basin
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU)
Country: Colombia
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development
Overall term: 2018 to 2022

19-05-talleres Primavera Sta Rosalia (c) GIZ-Sebastian Sunderhaus (111)


The ecosystems of the Orinoco river basin in Colombia are vital to the prosperity and economic development of the Orinoquía region as a result of their biodiversity and abundance of water. This riverine landscape provides clean water and fertile soils, binds carbon and thus helps to mitigate climate change. It also protects against flooding and drought. Development plans for the region provide for the expansion and intensification of agriculture. In this context, it is important that ecosystems are preserved and protected – otherwise the ecological stability of the region would be at risk, which would in turn have an impact on the economic development the country aspires to achieve.


Regional and agricultural development plans are based on the economic value of nature for the human population and sustainable land use in the Orinoco river basin.

19-05-talleres Primavera Sta Rosalia (c) GIZ-Sebastian Sunderhaus (123)


The name of the TONINA project is derived from the local name of a river dolphin. It works together with national, regional and local authorities and the private sector in the Colombian Orinoquía region.

Understanding, learning, applying and protecting: The project disseminates knowledge and increases awareness among the local population of the value of nature, particularly among decision-makers from the public and private sectors, municipal officials and farmers. At the same time, it is developing criteria for methods and tools with the aim of protecting biodiversity and thus also human habitats.

Taking account of the economic value of nature: The project supports representatives of the public and private sectors in joint efforts to plan and implement environmentally friendly land use – for example through consideration in land-use and development plans.

Measuring and monitoring: The project is establishing a monitoring system to record the development of biodiversity and the economic contribution of natural resources.

Sharing knowledge: Achievements, lessons learned and successful project models are shared both nationally and internationally.

The project is also developing incentives to encourage environmentally friendly land use models.

The Alexander von Humboldt Biological Resources Research Institute in Colombia and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in Germany are supporting the implementation of this project.

vacas vichada (c) sebastian sunderhaus giz 2019


  • Significant contributions of the ecosystem in the Orinoco river basin have been identified and mainstreamed in the region’s land-use and development planning.
  • The project supports several exchange and dialogue formats on sustainable agricultural practices, for example with livestock farmers.
  • 77 per cent of participants in training courses organised by the project confirm that they have improved their knowledge.
  • A system to monitor biodiversity is being piloted in the ‘puma triangle’ protected area in Departamento Meta.


Last update: October 2020