NEW YORK (January 5, 2018) – The Government of Colombia has recently established a new marine and coastal area for conservation and sustainable use in partnership with local communities in Tumaco, Colombia, according to WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society). 

The new National Integrated Management District (DNMI) covers a total area of 190,282 hectares (more than 734 square miles) and occupies a strategic location that connects important protected areas in the Colombian Pacific with the Manglares Cayapas Mataje (REMACAM) Reserve in Ecuador.

This DNMI will promote conservation and protect wildlife—including iconic species such as leatherback turtles, humpback whales, and many economically valuable fish species—by strengthening the rights of local Afro-Colombian communities that have historically inhabited the area. The communities will help to co-manage the DNMI, which will protect natural resources including mangrove and native floodplains; turtle nesting beaches; feeding and resting places for birds, ark clams, and crab banks; and fisheries resources, among others.

WCS supported the technical studies and negotiations with local communities required in creating the DNMI, and will continue to support the government and regional authorities in developing and implementing the management plant with local communities.

“We applaud the government for creating a protected area that will safeguard the country’s marine and coastal biodiversity while maintaining sustainable traditions that support the region’s communities,” said Rocio Rodríguez, Assistant Director of WCS Colombia.

In addition to safeguarding ecosystems, the DNMI will protect 22 species of mammals, 20 species of birds, 12 species of reptiles, 30 species of mollusks, and a large number of fish species, including 57 species important for artisanal fishing and 16 for industrial fishing. The district’s mangroves also serve a crucial role in protecting against climatic events, mitigating climate change, and improving the overall quality of the ecosystem, ultimately improving the quality of life of the local communities.

With this declaration, Colombia has established a total of 28,918,584 hectares (more than 111,000 square miles) of protected areas, with 13.73 percent in marine and coastal environments; this means they have achieved the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Aichi Target 11, which aims to conserve at least 10 percent of coastal and marine areas.

This achievement is the result of the work between local communities (the local community council, or Consejo Comunitario Bajo Mira y Frontera) and the Alliance for the Conservation of Biodiversity, Territories and Cultures, an alliance between the Colombian National Parks Unit, World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), WCS, Fundación Mario Santo Domingo, and Grupo Argos. The Colombian Environment and Sustainable Development Ministry, Marine and Coastal Research Institute (Invemar), and the government of the Nariño department also provided support.