Conservation planning for tropical dry ecosystems of Cucuta, Colombia

Silvia Juliana Alvarez Vargas

Tropical dry forests in the area of Cúcuta, northeast Colombia, have been recognized as important representatives of inter-Andean dry forests and their protection has been identified as a national priority. However, there is little information about its biodiversity and the impact of human activities upon it at a regional scale which limits the design of a protected area network. Our project aims to determine priority areas for biodiversity conservation in this dry region. An approach following systematic conservation planning will be used, considering the distribution patterns in diversity of mammals, birds, frogs and butterflies as well as in the threatened red siskin (Carduelis cucullata), owl monkey (Aotus griseimembra) and long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris curasoae). Diversity and distributional data on these taxa will be obtained by rapid biodiversity assessments. Distribution of main threats to biodiversity in the area, i.e. mining, agriculture, urbanization, and hunting, will be assessed through remote sensing, participatory methods, and field surveys. GIS tools will be used to obtain and select effective planning portfolios for biodiversity conservation. The results of this project will guide conservation stakeholders and environmental authorities to direct their efforts toward the identified areas, encouraging the creation of new protected areas. This approach will also add to the initiative of the National Park Office for the creation of a protected area in the region and the definition of its management plan.