Your support will help safeguard biodiversity and livelihoods in Colombia’s tropical forests
You can help Fundación Trópico in protecting the tropical forests in the region of Valle del Cauca in Colombia and supporting communities that want to live in harmony with nature. To make the conservation of the region’s tropical forests sustainable, its inhabitants need to be able to make a living which does not involve destroying them.
In Río Bravo, residents are beginning eco-tourism enterprises based on bird-watching. For these ventures to be successful, the people of Río Bravo need our young volunteers to teach them English and French and help them to use technology to communicate with the growing numbers of foreign tourists and backpackers that are interested in visiting Colombia.
The Río Bravo Reserve (Valle del Cauca, Colombia) is part of one of the world’s most biologically rich and threatened areas. It is located in the Tropical Andes, one of 36 biodiversity hotspots and an area facing a variety of threats including mining, timber extraction, oil exploration, and narcotics plantations.
Around 200 families are direct beneficiaries of the process by which Río Bravo has been declared a protected area, but these families need to learn new language and technological skills by which to develop sustainable livelihoods which do not damage their environment and which help its conservation.
Trópico has had a major impact in the region over the past 21 years, through creating protected areas and strengthening the participation of people in the preservation of the Cauca Valley.
The people of Rio Bravo are trying to reintroduce sustainable ecological and livelihood practices. Among these are reforestation, water resource management and the conservation and re-introduction of indigenous plant varieties.
Another important initiative is the establishment of eco-tourism enterprises based on bird-watching in Río Bravo, home to many species of birds, some of which are endangered or only found in this part of the world.
The success of these start-ups depends on local entrepreneurs getting the help they need to convey their knowledge of and passion about native species to the large numbers of foreign visitors to the region. You can help Tropico by supporting volunteers who will each give up several months of their time to teach English, French and computer literacy in the community and build a solid basis for successful eco-tourism industry. The volunteers will also support the micro-businesses to market and publicise their activities to an English-speaking public via social media, blogs and websites, taking photos, videos and writing compelling texts inspired by their first-hand experience of the area.
Please support the volunteers! Let us introduce them:
I am Davida Paul, an avid traveller born and raised in Sydney, Australia and now living in Vancouver, Canada. I’m an aspiring photojournalist, and am always in pursuit of learning about new cultures. I recently completed my TESOL Certification to teach English overseas, and have been part of a social project in Kalimantan, Indonesia called Yayasan Permakultur Kalimantan. Since I was young I have wanted to live in Colombia and be able to get in touch with my ancestral roots again. With my love for environment-centred social projects and my teaching skills, I will try to help address the language barrier, and facilitate an exchange of different cultures – bringing two different worlds together, and enjoying the wonderful time we are going to have in the midst of a beautiful Colombian forest.
Emaline Gonzalez Thomas
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to experience life in Colombia. Immigrating to Canada at the age of two, I have no memories of the area I was born in other than those from my two-week visit at the age of 17. Although it was a brief trip, seeing the country’s beauty was an unforgettable experience for me, and I’ve been wanting to go back ever since. I’m a passionate, hard-working young woman with a goal of creating strong bonds with the beautiful people of my second home country. When I first heard of this project, I couldn’t believe such an opportunity was presenting itself to me. I just finished my college program, giving me a semester off before going to university. The timing is perfect! Being able to venture forth into an experience like this brings me joy, excitement, and determination. I am so grateful to be a part of this and I hope to give this project my all!
I’m 19 years old and I’m interested in all kinds of arts such as music, poetry/prose, photography, dancing, and painting. I’m currently finishing my last semester at Dawson College studying social sciences, and I’d like to study International Development in the future. This project seems like the perfect pick for me because I am very passionate about human rights as well as environmental issues, and I think it’s so important to teach as many as possible about the impact we humans have on this earth, whether it be on biodiversity or on communities. I also believe that this project will be an incredible learning experience for me to understand a different culture, learn a new language, discover a completely different environment, and to grow spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually.
Now we need to raise the money they need to travel to Colombia and cover housing, transport and other costs for between four and six months. This is where you come in!
SDIA is seeking to raise $15,000 USD to support Davida, Emaline, Paula and Fundación Tropico in this initiative.
Long Term Impact
With the growth of eco-tourism in Colombia, there is no doubt that there is place in this market for the Río Bravo enterprises. Equipped with language skills in addition to their existing knowledge of the area and its fauna and flora, and supported by a presence in English-language media, these businesses will be able to grow and flourish.
Such profit-generating initiatives are vital to support and help create a thriving community which does not have to rely on livelihoods that harm the ecosystem they live and depend on. Río Bravo can become a sustainable community, and the tropical forests – so important for the earth’s environmental balance – will survive.
Trópico’s work with institutions and communities in the Valle del Cauca has generated a national-level model for the participatory creation of protected areas, which is now being replicated in different parts of the country. This model for eco-tourism could also serve as a template for similar ventures in critical areas of the country, thus creating a long-term impact nationwide.
In October 2017, Fundación Trópico’s founder and director Ana Elvia Arana was one of 10 laureate’s for the Prize for Women’s Creativity in Rural Life awarded by the Women’s World Summite Foundation. More information here.
Fundación Trópico’s page on SDIA Website