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Partner Snapshot

Partner name:

El Dorado Nature Reserve, Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia

Appeal Category:
  • Ecosystem Restoration
  • Endangered Species
  • Protected Area Management
  • Reforestation
  • Wildlife Conservation
Key Species:
  • Santa Marta Parakeet
  • Santa Marta Toro
  • San Lorenzo Harlequin Frog
Challenges and Threats:
  • Illegal Invasions to claim and clear forest
  • Vacation home developments
  • Cattle pasture lands
  • Reserve rangers
  • Improve Protection
  • Forest restoration

The Challenge

On Colombia’s Caribbean shores stands the highest coastal mountain on earth. The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is a corrugated pyramid of rock that rises almost four miles high. This ancient massif that dates back to the Jurassic period contains a microcosm of the entire planet from deserts to rainforest to glaciers with an extraordinary diversity of plants and animals found nowhere else. It is regarded as the planet’s single most important site for threatened and endemic biodiversity, as it boasts the highest concentration of endemic bird species in the world. As a result, the prestigious journal Science dubbed the area the “Most Irreplaceable Site on Earth” and a major priority for biodiversity conservation.

Located on the Sierra Nevada’s most vulnerable northwestern flank—less than ten miles from the city of Santa Marta—is perhaps the world’s most important nature reserve: El Dorado. Established in 2005 by our Colombian partner Fundación ProAves, the reserve protects over 3,200 acres, safeguarding habitat for threatened species such as the Critically Endangered Santa Marta Toro and the Santa Marta Harlequin Frog.  However, in recent years land speculation around the reserve has spiraled out of control as the reserves offers surrounding areas with exceptional natural resources such as clean water, cooler climes and spectacular views. Unfortunately this speculation has spurred some unscrupulous individuals to try and illegal invade some parts of the reserve to claim land and then sell it.  ProAves is desperate to increase protective measures at this Reserve.

Urgent Solutions

Following decades of uncontrolled colonization and agricultural expansion, less than 15 percent of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta’s original highland forest remains intact. All the more important that the El Dorado Nature Reserve represents one of the last refuges of strict protection for this mecca of endemic biodiversity. Principle threats include illegal invasions of the reserve to claim and clear forest then sell it for vacation home developments. The construction of vacation homes in the cooler climes of the mountain poses a growing danger to the forests and with land prices quadrupling each year, the demand for land is putting immense pressure on the reserve boundaries and what little forest survives outside the reserve. Unfortunately, the area’s many endangered and endemic species are concentrated in these cooler montane forests where threats are greatest. Almost every endemic species in the massif is struggling to survive amidst the continued destruction of their habitat.

This appeal will provide critical resources to fund and equip three new Reserve Rangers, establish a new Ranger Station where threats are greatest and establish a communication network for alerts across the reserve to rapidly respond to threats.

Why your donation matters

With invasions and deforestation placing this biodiversity jewel at tremendous risk, our partner urgently seeks support increase protective measures with additional reserve Rangers, new ranger stations and a communications system for alerts across the reserve.  Your help will ensure the reserve continues to be a safe haven for the planet’s most important biodiversity hotspot.

Partner Qualifications

  • IUCN Member
    A distinguished Member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. IUCN Members are each vetted and voted on based on an independent, rigorous assessment and external references. Learn More
  • Verified Partner
    One of Conservation Allies' staff or trusted advisors has visited this organization and verified its work and impact.
  • Legally Constituted
    This organization is formally constituted and is a legally recognized non-profit in its country of origin.
  • Top Accountability
    Our experienced team has rigorously reviewed the organization's annual accounts. Learn More
  • Effective Impact
    We recognize this Partner for their tremendous efforts to make a difference for wildlife and local communities, as well as welcome technical support from Conservation Allies to improve and scale up their impact.
  • Conservation Action Heroes
    We recognize this Partner for their high level of engagement with the Conservation Allies team and their demonstration of a clear commitment to our collective mission of making a real difference and having a major impact on wildlife and communities where it is needed most.