Newton Fund

Change text size:

A- A A+

Protecting biodiversity through Colombian communities

Protecting biodiversity through Colombian communities

The GCRF-funded GROW Colombia programme has trained former guerrilla fighters as citizen scientists, built capacity to tackle illegal wildlife trade and strengthen online resources for biodiversity, and is informing Colombia’s National Development Plan.

Colombia's abundant flora and fauna include around 10 percent of all known species on earth – up to 55,000 species of animals and plants. The GCRF-funded GROW Colombia programme, led by Professor Federica di Palma at the Earlham Institute, focuses on biodiversity to support peaceful, sustainable development following the 2016 peace agreement.

The GROW Colombia programme has trained former FARC-EP guerrillas as citizen scientists to carry out species surveys and explore opportunities for conservation and ecotourism. Students, civil servants and NGOs have been trained in using 'metagenomics' in a site to tackle international illegal trade in wildlife, and a 2018 cyberinfrastructure workshop led to the formation of a 16-strong consortium of Colombian institutes, C3Biodiversidad, looking to build capacity in this area and a White Paper to inform future government policy. In 2019 Professor Di Palma was appointed by the Government of Colombia to the Misión de Sabios (International Mission of Experts); the group will provide recommendations for a road map which will be incorporated into Colombia’s next National Development Plan.

Watch a film about the 'Peace with nature' project 

Film about GROW Colombia 'Peace with nature' project © Global Challenges Research Fund, 2020.
Filmed and edited by Jon Spaull.

This content is part of a new series exploring common themes and impact across the Newton Fund and Global Challenges Research Fund. Both funds are managed by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and delivered by a range of UK and international partners.

Find out more about Newton Fund and GCRF capacity development

Image credit: Richard Doyle