Restore Tropical Oak Forest

The community is restoring Tropical Oak Forest in the Colombian Andes, conserving rare species as icons of the bioregion.

Photo of Melina (Atrix) Angel
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Eligibility Criteria

  • I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Act for Biodiversity Challenge and that I am eligible to apply.
  • I am 18 years old or older.

Initiative's representative name

Melina Angel

Initiative's representative date of birth

June 27, 1976

Initiative's representative gender

  • Woman

Headquarters location: country

  • Colombia

Headquarters location: city

Villa de Leyva, Boyaca, Colombia

Where are you making a difference?

Colombia, Boyaca, Gachantiva. Where the relics of Oak Forest are. This community has stoped mining companies to deforest and needs help to restore and manage the ecosystem.

Website or social media url(s)

These are organizations to which we are linked but we are presenting this project as civil society to work with the community in a direct way.

Date Started


Project Stage

  • Start-up (first few activities have happened)

Yearly Budget : What is your current yearly budget for the initiative?

  • €100k - €250k

Organization Type

  • Civil society

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.

Exploring the Oak forest we discovered a very rare species of mammal called Olingo (Bassarisium neblina), probably a new species. The need to protect last relicts of oak forest became of high priority. As the local community organized itself to protect their water from deforestation, we found a perfect momentum to engage them into a restoration process. So we have started seedlings of different species and creating a strategy to include and engage the community. Positioning vulnerable species of the tropical oak (Quercus humboldtii) forests within the community will help to its conservation, creation of biological corridors, and to contribute to the health and economics of local communities.

2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Forest connectivity for the conservation of rare species: Olingo (Basarisium neblina), horned bettle, woodpeckers and wildboars. We hope to create enough area of forest and connection with the community for the jaguars and bears to come back to the Oak Forests. Sensibilization and engagement of the community about the importance of the protected Oak species, the forests and the biodiversity, helping them to see biodiversity as a source of living.

3. Your solution: How are you working to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Take care of the oak relicts, restore corridors and engage communities in the process go all together, so we started to design a strategy of sensibilization and work with the community for at least 5 years. We have contacted stakeholders of the community and got involved in the ongoing conversations about the conservation of forests and water. We have identified strategic spots to be restored and started seedlings of oak and other species in order to begin the succession process. We also started to take out one invasive species in one farm that is already engaged in the restoration process, where we have put bird's stakes. We are at the starting point and we hope to be able to give more time and efforts to follow the process. The work with the community will have artistic aspect (film making, biodiversity based icon creation), business aspect (regenerative tourism, uses of biodiversity) and facilitation aspect (conflict resolution and communication methodologies). Schools will be specially involved.

4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?

We will use the Bioregional approach for restoration of ecosystems and communities and include the Systemic Regeneration and Watershed framework. We will use social innovation methodologies, as the Art of hosting. We will use Art to create icons and videos for key/rare species social appropriation. Monitoring of the tropical oak forests species specially by youth people. Restoring forest following technics which leverage the natural succession process (using bird's stakes, planting pioneer plants and seedlings of Oak with the micellium from the original forest), AND enhancing the forest capabilities to regenerate using vibration technics as sounds and energy fields using biomimetic innovation.

5. Collaboration: How does your initiative seek to bring key players together to preserve biodiversity?

We want to facilitate spaces of dialogue between the community (locals and neorurals) about the forest, sustainable tourism and participatory development, to increase the cohesion and do conflict resolution. Also to facilitate meetings between the community and the environmental authorities to increase the flow of information. We also want to do workshops with the community about ecological restoration, and create eco-clubs with youth and greenhouses at schools, to take care of the seedlings and engage the process. And to train the community, specially youth, to do fauna monitoring, installing phototrap cameras and going into the forest for direct observation. To bring researchers to be with the youth once they are monitoring to learn more and collaborate with them.

6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far — in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?

Bioregional connection towards biodiversity conservation and watershed knowledge owned by the community means empowered regeneration process. Ecological services and forest biodiversity adding value to the economic development of the bioregion due to the uniqueness of this tropical oak forest. Key organisms will be icons of cultural dynamics. Monitoring biodiversity by local communities, assure that more information about biodiversity will be gather and shared. In this way the community will have more opportunities to use their knowledge to create sustainable tourism in the bioregion and other entrepreneurial initiatives as local flora greenhouse, local berries cultures, etc. We want to measure the impact by number of lands with restoration process, number of people engaged in fauna monitoring, number of trees growth in the school's greenhouse and meetings with the community and the stakeholders.

7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?

To create ecoclubs with the youth with the objective to create corredors with other municipalities and to recreate the restoration process. The methodology with the community can be replicated anywhere. Ferias between the schools as if they are different species. Inviting the regional government to know and engage in the process will push the initiative to be replicated in other municipalities or bioregions.

8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for society? Or different stakeholders?

People of the area is already thinking on new ways to use the territory as ecological tourism spot. We want to help the community in how this activity can be possible conserving biodiversity and the regeneration of the tropical oak forest. Biodiversity conservation will be linked with the creation of icons to increase the social appropriation of the bioregion. The plan is to connect 3 areas of conservation at long term with this project (Iguaque, Serranía del peligro and Sierra Corta) which will bring south the Oak Forest and wide the total area for fauna. This implies seedlings and other activities as already trained "regenerators"! Government implication to replicate the process.

9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

Our initial actions will impact at least three communities of the bioregion and will bring the attention towards the following economic activities: Greenhouses for Oak and local plants; Agreements with governments for reforestation and climate mitigation; Regenerative tourism with responsible and engage tourism guides; Phototramp and fauna monitoring by the community linked with researchers. This action can have further funding to expand the impact by local governments, environmental services transfers, climate mitigation efforts and private foundations, networks for regeneration as RCN and others. This project helps to to achieve the SDGs and the UN goals for the Ecological Restoration decade.

10. Team: what is the current composition of your current team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?

Melina Angel, Systemic Regenerator, biomimicry professional, biologist, as Keystone coordinator. Juliana Bohórquez, Systemic Artist and community worker as Community coordinator. Federico Sánchez, mastozoologist and biodiversity conservation as Conservation coordinator. Cristina Estupiñan, botanist as ecological restorator. Juliana Delgado, Filmmaker, as social media and marketing manager. Margarita León community member as greenhouse manager.

11. How did you hear about this challenge?

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