Natuurbehoud belangrijk voor biodiversiteit en klimaat (c) SOC

Land Acquisition Fund: safeguarding nature is an important solution to the biodiversity and climate crises

The main threats to world’s biodiversity are the ongoing loss, fragmentation and degradation of natural habitat. Nature is the foundation for all life on Earth, and we need to save what is left. The IUCN NL Land Acquisition Fund supports conservation NGOs around the world to secure, protect and connect nature. Every year, a number of land acquisition projects is selected after a thorough selection process. We highlight three projects selected in 2023 to safeguard biodiversity hotspots in Ecuador, Colombia and Brazil.

Header photo: cotton-top tamarin in Colombia © SOC

Conservation heroes

Securing, connecting and restoring nature is crucial to save biodiversity, mitigate climate change and safeguard endangered species. Working together with local communities is essential for an effective and sustainable management of these protected areas.

The NGOs supported by the Land Acquisition Fund secure the land and are responsible for the privately protected areas. The people working at these local NGOs are true conservation heroes on the frontline of nature conservation. Because of them, land acquisition creates a win-win for biodiversity, the climate and human well-being.

Supported by a small team, conservation heroes Felipe Alfonso-Cortes and Natalia Fuentes from Proyecto Washu work in Ecuador’s coastal region of Manabí, where deforestation is taking place at a rapid pace.

Natuurbehoud en -herstel in Ecuador voor biodiversiteit en klimaat
Fragmented forest in Manabí, Ecuador. © Proyecto Washu

Connecting fragmented forest in Ecuador

Two of these conservation heroes are Felipe Alfonso-Cortes and Natalia Fuentes from Proyecto Washu in Ecuador. Supported by a small team, they work in the coastal region of Manabí, where deforestation is taking place at a rapid pace. Forests with a high biodiversity, including species like the critically endangered brown-headed spider monkey (Ateles fusciceps fusciceps) and the Ecuadorian white-fronted capuchin monkey (Cebus aequatorialis), are cut for mining and agricultural activities.

By purchasing different forest fragments and connecting them through reforestation, Proyecto Washu contributes to safeguarding an important biodiversity hotspot. In 2022, the Ecuadorian foundation started creating a private forest reserve with the purchase of 201 hectares in the area.

The Land Acquisition Fund joined forces with other foundations to purchase an additional 340, of which 46 hectares is covered directly by the Land Acquisition Fund. This expansion makes the total protected area 541 hectares.

Because of its wide variety of ecosystems, the Tumbes-Choco-Magdalena tropical Andes hotspot in Colombia has an extremely rich biodiversity, including 755 species of flowering plants, 96 species of reptiles, and 386 species of birds.

Protecting a biodiversity hotspot in Colombia

In order to have more impact, the Land Acquisition Fund often teams up with other donor organisations. This is also the case in Colombia, where the Ornithological Society of Cordoba (SOC) aims to protect the Tumbes-Choco-Magdalena tropical Andes hotspot. Because of its wide variety of ecosystems this region has an extremely rich biodiversity, including 755 species of flowering plants, 96 species of reptiles, and 386 species of birds.

But this biodiversity hotspot is threatened by high rates of deforestation for industrial agriculture, cattle pastures, mining, crops for illicit use and the construction of roads. It is estimated that 21% of its natural forest was between 2001 and 2019.

With the support of Land Acquisition Fund, SOC is able to safeguard 101 hectares, which is a significant share of the in total 273 hectares that will be protected. The new reserve will provide a safe haven for species such as the crested eagle (Morphnus guianensis) and the endemic blue-billed curassow (Crax alberti), protecting them from the threats of deforestation, hunting and other human activities.

Proyecto Washu beschermt een biodiversiteitshotspot in Ecuador
Proyecto Washu team in the cloud forest.
© Proyecto Washu
Rijke biodiversiteit in Colombia
Blue-billed curassow, endemic to Colombia © SOC             

Improving the connectivity of protected areas in Brazil

Brazil’s Atlantic Forest is a biodiversity hotspot and the home of the northern muriqui (Brachyteles hypoxanthus), one of the most critically endangered primates on Earth. For a long time, deforestation has been causing fragmentation of the forest, threatening its habitat.

The Caparaó National Park and the Serra do Brigadeiro State Park are two of priority sites for the protection of the northern muriqui. The Brazilian NGO Rede Eco-Diversa connects important fragments of high-quality humid forest contributing to the connectivity of the two national protected areas. With the support of the Land Acquisition Fund, 20 hectares will be added to the protected region.

Thank you for your support!

The impact of our Land Acquisition Fund is possible because of the National Postcode Lottery and other funds. We are also receiving more and more private donations. Thanks to generous contributions from individuals and small businesses, we were able to support more initiatives contributing to safeguarding biodiversity and mitigating climate change, including:

  • expanding of the Mesenia-Paramillo in Colombia with the support of Bird Brewery,
  • restoring the habitat of the cotton-top tamarin monkey and other species in North Colombia, and
  • creating of a private protected area in one of the most biodiverse areas on Earth, which is threatened by illegal gold mining,
  • others yet to be announced!

More information? Contact:

Marc Hoogeslag
Senior Expert Nature Conservation
Frederique Holle
Expert Environmental Justice