Colombia Pacific Watershed Projects

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The Colombia Pacific Watershed Projects

This collection of projects protects 117,740 hectares of coastal watershed along the Pacific coast of Colombia. Located along Colombia's Pacific coast, this collection of projects includes three sites and mangrove forest-protected areas, Mutatá, Bahia Malaga-Bajo Calima, and Bajo Mira y Frontera and conserves a critical part of the South American tropical forest, which is home to 10% of the entire planet’s animal and plant species.

This area is one of Colombia’s poorest and historically marginalized regions. These projects improve the well-being of over 40,000 people, increase employment opportunities for the local afro-descendent and indigenous communities, implement systematic protection of mangrove forests, and maintain biodiversity.

powered by the people

Community-Led Projects

These projects are led by the local indigenous community. The people of the project sites collectively own and operate the projects and serve as the primary decision-makers. All value from the projects go directly to the local community.

Photo Credit: USAID/Colombia

Summary of Projects


  • Sustainable conservation of the mangrove ecosystem, marshes, and associated streams.
  • Local governance of protected marine-coastal areas at the regional level.
  • Sustainable community management practices of mangrove forests.
  • Economic empowerment of community groups and increased job opportunities.
  • Habitat protection for vulnerable flora and fauna species.


  • Generates 70 million tons of verified emissions reductions over 30 years.
  • Improves the well-being of over 40,000 local people.
  • Increases conservation of at least 10 % of coastal and marine areas.
  • Promote ecotourism in the project area.
  • Strengthens efforts to safeguard the area's cultural and natural heritage.

The Chocó-Darien Global Ecoregion

One of Most Biodiverse Areas in the World

Stretching from the border of Panama to Ecuador, Colombia’s Pacific coast is home to 10% of the planet’s animal and plant species. These rainforests have some of the highest biodiversity on the planet and is home to several critically endangered endemic species, including the South American jaguar.

a critical ECOSYSTEM

Threatened by Deforestation

This region is a highly productive marine-coastal ecosystem that provides protection against coastal erosion, water purification, flood control, significant carbon stocks, and shelter for a variety of vulnerable species such as birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish.

Photo Credit: USAID/Colombia

The Colombian coastline has once again become threatened by narco-gangs competing to control the communities and partake in illicit activities that threaten the fragile forest ecosystem, including timber, mining, and cocoa harvesting.

Although illegal timber extraction is a common source of income for Colombia, it is the leading cause of forest degradation. On the Pacific coast, the emissions from forest degradation are nearly as prevalent as those from deforestation where areas are cleared for agriculture and livestock.

These projects provide communities with a meaningful alternative livelihood, one based on incentives and rewards for effective conservation.


Ridge To Reef Watershed

Wetland and marine environments are less vulnerable to damage when rivers upstream are healthy and protected.



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Sustainable Development

These projects provide income flow for the local community and sustainable management and protection of marine and coastal ecosystems. This in turn drives other Sustainable Development benefits produced by the projects. Longer-term success is ensured by the creation of meaningful jobs that are reliant on the forest being protected.

Photo Credit: USAID/Colombia