The dry forest ecosystem is a high conservation priority in Colombia. This project seeks to promote the sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity in dry forests to ensure the flow of ecosystem services and to mitigate deforestation and desertification in the Caribbean region and the Inter-Andean Valley of the Magdalena River (VIRM) in Colombia. The project contributed to the flow of multiple global and local ecosystem services, including carbon storage, food production, water supply, fodder supply, and biodiversity habitat. The project also established protected areas, implemented Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) pilot projects, and promoted sustainable land management.
At the same time, the project built trust with local communities, promoted participatory conservation in the tropical dry forest as a production landscape and ensured benefits for local communities from dry forest ecosystem services, including reviving traditional agricultural products. As a result, the project fostered strong ownership by local communities and contributed to peacebuilding in the post-conflict areas, since maintaining the good environmental condition of the dry forest and its ecosystem services provide for local livelihoods and food security, which were the basis for agreement between the government and local communities. Based on institutional capacity building of local governments and other organizations, the project contributed to develop a nationwide project to conserve dry forest in Colombia. Key lessons learned from this project are: importance of good marketing strategy to link small producers to entrepreneurs for valuing biodiversity, adaptive management to incorporate peacebuilding and socio-economic intervention, and participatory biodiversity monitoring that turned local communities into strategic partners.