Environmental protection in Colombia

Youth in the service of the rainforest

Known as the lungs of our planet, forests are essential for biodiversity and the survival of all living beings, including humans. In Colombia, a project in the tropical region of Sucre aims to raise awareness among indigenous communities about their environment, in order to live in harmony with the forest and protect this vital space.


Country, region:
Los Palmitos, Toluviejo and Morroa, Sucre Department, Colombia
February 2022 - August 2024
1700 people
Total project budget:
cHF 276'809


Women, men and youth are made aware of their environment. They use and exploit natural resources in a sustainable manner, which promotes the establishment of green businesses and the conservation of the dry tropical forest in three municipalities of Sucre.

The project is financially supported by the SDC.

The Colombian rainforest is one of the richest forests in the world, home to 2,600 plant species, 230 bird species and 60 different mammals. Its ability to regulate local water sources and store huge amounts of CO2 makes it a major asset for biodiversity as well as for the inhabitants of the region. Nevertheless, this precious resource is in danger.

In addition to monocultures that deplete the soil and the uncontrolled extraction of limestone and sand, large quantities of trees are being cut down. “Many farmers cut down trees that are in their way, either to promote livestock or because these trees can bring in parasites. This has created an unprecedented degradation of the ecosystem in the Sucre region,” explains Adriana Martinez, environmental specialist at SWISSAID Colombia.

To protect this vital space, SWISSAID is counting on young people. For children and teenagers, the project offers walks in the forest to make them aware of their living environment, coupled with campaigns, jingles and videos for the protection of the environment broadcast on social networks. In addition to raising awareness, the project has involved the youth in setting up nurseries to restore native species and reforest the forest. This work has already allowed the reintroduction of about 50 native species in the region and aims to reach the introduction of 24’000 tree seedlings per month.

The project has created an enthusiasm among the youth of Sucre for their territory, their heritage and the environment in general. In the “Bosque seco tropical” school, the young people follow the germination process, from the seed to the shrub, and learn to recognize the species and their benefits. With this knowledge, they realize the richness of their environment. Like Cristian Pérez, a young beneficiary: “This project has completely changed my life. I didn’t know how important it was to take care of our tropical dry forest. Now I share my knowledge with others. I am working for a better environment – this makes me happy and hopeful.”

I work for a better environment – that makes me happy and hopeful.

Cristian Pérez, participant in the rainforest reforestation project

This awareness is the first essential step in the conservation of the environment. “Because when you don’t know, you can’t love or care”, explains Adriana Martinez. To make the most of this knowledge, the project also offers continuing education in sustainable business creation and management. The inhabitants can thus invest in their own community and reduce the exodus of men and young people to urban centers. Nature is thus protected and the communities ensure their sustainability.

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