Colombia Reserva de Biosfera Seaflower

Protection of the Seaflower Biosphere Reserve

Colombia’s Minister Susana Muhamad Leads Major Agreement for the Protection of the Seaflower Biosphere Reserve

San Andrés, May 18, 2024 (@MinAmbienteCo). Fulfilling a promise and calling for peace with nature, Minister of Environment Susana Muhamad, Governor Nicolás Gallardo, and Raizal community representatives have signed an agreement focused on the governance and socio-ecological restoration of the Seaflower Biosphere Reserve. This agreement aims to ensure justice for the Raizal community and the environment while strengthening the protection of this insular territory.

 

 

Image Credit: Coralina and the Reserva de Biosfera Seaflower, Colombia, Facebook @CorporacionCarolina.

 

 

Key Points of the Agreement:

Active Dialogue: After three days of active dialogue with the Raizal community of the San Andrés Archipelago, the agreement was sealed to strengthen the governance and socio-ecological restoration of the Seaflower Biosphere Reserve.

Resource Mobilization: Minister Muhamad announced the creation of a specific sub-account within the Life Fund for San Andrés to mobilize resources for the archipelago.

Biodiversity: The Seaflower Biosphere Reserve, one of the largest in the world, hosts the greatest biodiversity in the western Caribbean, home to over 2,564 species.

Minister’s Statement:

“We are taking a fundamental first step; this is an alliance between institutions and the Raizal people with a common purpose: to make peace with nature. We have fulfilled a commitment made last year to consolidate solid agreements. A key focus is to strengthen governance and agreements among all actors, and set clear rules to preserve the Seaflower Biosphere Reserve,” said Environment Minister Susana Muhamad.

 

 

Image Credit: Coralina and the Reserva de Biosfera Seaflower, Colombia, Facebook @CorporacionCarolina.

 

 

Strategic Pillars of the Agreement:

  • Comprehensive Attention to Socio-Environmental Conflicts: Establish a robust inter-institutional table.
  • Strengthening Raizal Community Governance: Enhance community involvement and leadership.
  • Legal Framework Analysis: Create a legal table to analyze the administration of the Reserve.

Additional Initiatives:

  • A permanent technical commission of the National Environmental System will review the processes of the Corporation in its exercise of Environmental Authority.
  • An environmental royalties call for $300 billion is open for projects by black, Raizal, and Palenquero communities.

 

 

Image Credit: Coralina and the Reserva de Biosfera Seaflower, Colombia, Facebook @CorporacionCarolina.

 

 

Community Dialogue:

The agreement follows three days of dialogue with the Raizal community, where the Ministry of Environment listened to and embraced their proposals on issues such as mangrove protection, environmental licenses, reserve conservation, and solid waste management.

Governor’s Remarks:

“In the territory, a process of change is beginning for the entire Archipelago. With the dialogue tables, we seek for the whole community to be resilient and aware of climate change. We thank the Minister for being here to make a pact and transform the lives of the islanders,” stated Nicolás Gallardo, Governor of the Archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia, and Santa Catalina.

Raizal Community Leader’s Statement:

Endis Livingston, a Raizal community leader, emphasized: “Today is a historic day. After years of fighting for this moment, we now have a binding regional dialogue on the environmental crisis and deterioration in San Andrés. Thank you for coming to talk with the Raizals about this issue.”

Government Commitment:

During the event, Minister Muhamad reiterated the Government of Change’s commitment to work with communities nationwide for Peace with Nature. She highlighted that the #COP16Colombia biodiversity conference would be a significant accelerator for emphasizing the importance of conserving and protecting territories like the Seaflower Biosphere Reserve.

Combatting Illegal Fishing:

Minister Muhamad also led a new session of the Council Against Deforestation and Other Environmental Crimes (Conaldef) to address and make new decisions on illegal fishing on the island. She announced that efforts to combat this crime and strengthen territorial surveillance would be bolstered with the department’s authorities.

 

 

Image Credit: Coralina and the Reserva de Biosfera Seaflower, Colombia, Facebook @CorporacionCarolina.

 

 

Writing in 2020, the Ministry of Environment of Colombia highlighted the diversity of the region:

The Seaflower Biosphere Reserve has enabled sustainable economic and social development, based on the respectful use of its biodiversity and the education of new generations with a focus on protection and conservation.

The Reserve is home to over 2,564 registered species, including migratory, endemic, and sub-endemic species; it also houses more than 70 threatened species and those in danger of extinction.

Within it, there are over 407 species of fish, 48 hard corals, 54 soft corals, 3 hydrocorals, 2 anemones, 3 jellyfish, 130 sponges, 37 mollusks, 37 crustaceans, 38 echinoderms, 4 reptiles, 5 cetaceans, 157 birds, 3 seagrasses, and 4 mangroves.

Additionally, it is home to 33 species of sharks and 13 species of rays, some very popular like the gray reef shark and stingray, but also rare and deep-water species like the seven-gill shark and the starry sharks (Etmopterus spp).

The Reserve also highlights important populations of commercial fishery resources such as the queen conch, spiny lobster, snappers, groupers, and grunts. There are seven reproductive colonies of seabirds, the greatest diversity of soft corals in the western Caribbean, an endemic aquatic turtle, and the majestic migrations of the black crab, Gecarcinus ruricola (unique in the region).

The gradual transformation of the archipelago’s development model is promoting better and more balanced economic growth, with opportunities for disadvantaged groups.

The sustainable development of the natural resources of this biosphere reserve has stimulated the growth of entrepreneurial initiatives such as native inns, artisanal groups, and organic products, developed by the community with the constant support of institutions.

 


Soledad Quartucci | CEO/Founder, Latina Republic

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