Securing Colombia's Heritage

HECO is a major milestone in protecting the nation's landscapes and seascapes

aerial view of Colombian mountain range

Heritage Colombia supports the creation of a new protected area

DEC. 2, 2023
The Colombian government declared a new national natural park in the Manacacías Mountain Range. The nearly 170,000-acre park boasts a diversity of ecosystems, from savannahs and gallery forests to wetlands and lagoons. It is home to deeply rooted communities and hundreds of species of birds, amphibians, and mammals. The new park is located in a region with a high concentration of industrial agriculture and mining, making it a critical safe haven for nature.

Simply put, there is no other place like Colombia.

Glacier-tipped mountains to multi-colored coral reefs. Dense rainforests to open savannahs. Rolling coastal sand dunes to cloud-shrouded alpine tundras. More species of birds, amphibians, butterflies, and frogs than any other place in the world. It’s no wonder, then, that Colombia ranks second in the world—behind only Brazil—for biodiversity. In fact, per square kilometer, Colombia is the most biodiverse country in the world.

Beyond lending Colombia its unique natural beauty, many of these places that have been stewarded by Colombia’s more than 90 Indigenous communities for millennia provide an abundance of natural resources. Millions of Colombians and people around the world depend on these resources for their sustenance, safety, and survival: clean air and water, food and medicines, and carbon absorbed and stored away from our warming atmosphere. Iconic and threatened wildlife like jaguars, harpy eagles, and pink river dolphins also depend on these habitats and the resources they provide.

Protecting these landscapes and seascapes requires significant human and financial resources, and a new Project Finance for Permanence (PFP) initiative called Herencia Colombia—which translates to Heritage Colombia—will support Colombia to both maintain and increase those protections.

The Herencia Colombia PFP (also known as HECO) secures the lasting conservation of 79 million acres of new or expanded areas in the heart of the Amazon, the San Lucas Mountains, the Central Andes, the Orinoco Transition, and the Caribbean Coast, and helps establish further marine protected areas in the Caribbean and Pacific.

Launching the Herencia Colombia PFP will mark two further achievements: the 49 million acres of marine protected areas included in the Herencia Colombia PFP meet Colombia’s 30x30 target to protect 30% of its ocean by 2030, and it locks in the permanent protection of about 12% of the entire Amazon rain forest in concert with the PFP initiatives in Brazil and Peru.

This initiative is about more than protected areas—safeguarding Colombia’s natural places helps the country meet its international sustainable development, climate, and biodiversity commitments while providing real benefits to Colombians. The Herencia Colombia PFP works in protected areas as well as the landscapes and seascapes around them, supporting communities who depend on these lands for their livelihoods by providing incentives and alternatives to improve their natural resource management practices that increase resilience to climate change and support conservation.