Strategies for the Integrated Management of Biodiversity

Germán CorzoInstituto Alexander von Humboldt Marcela Portocarrero-AyaInstituto Alexander von Humboldt

Population increases, along with policies for an extractive economic development, reinforce the need of implementing effective strategies to ensure the protection, mitigation, and prevention of threats and using Colombian biological diversity in an adequate and sustainable fashion.

The integrated management of biodiversity and its ecosystem services requires the appeasement of conservation with development.

This is specially necessary in a megadiverse, polyethnic, and multicultural country like Colombia that still has pending challenges in its development such as the great number of regions with unsatisfied basic necessities and high levels of illiteracy and infant mortality, among others.

The offer of natural resources contains two aspects: biodiversity (at the gene, species, or ecosystem level) and ecosystem services. This natural supply is vital for guaranteeing the well-being of human populations, settlement of communities, and production of industrial goods. However, certain sectors, in spite of receiving benefits from natural resources, have negative impacts on the natural environment that may increase or decrease in the future depending on what type of development model the country chooses to implement.

The National Policy for the Integrated Management of Biodiversity and its Ecosystem Services1 clearly shows that ecological interactions between different organization levels of biodiversity result in ecosystem services, and these, in turn, are the base for the relationship of humans with nature. Therefore all actions that seek to conserve biodiversity are strategies for ensuring the long-term provision of ecosystem services, on which the country's development depends.

The "Environmental Planning for the Conservation of Biodiversity in the Areas of Influence of Ecopetrol" project, which was developed with the Humboldt Institute between 2012 and 2015, aimed to create management tools that could harmonize the supply of natural resources with needs of conservation and use, in addition to the requirements of different economic sectors. This resulted in a series of strategies and guidelines designed under a model of ecological and economical sustainability to manage the territory's biodiversity2.

The identified strategies are classified as conservation (preservation areas 23%, ecological restoration 18%, sustainable use 14%) or territorial (supplementary areas that function as land banks 18%, productive areas 15%, complementary areas 12%) tools that are key in processes of connectivity and support of natural areas. The percentages resulted in a balanced proportion of strategies to be implemented, showing that the equilibrium between conservation and development is possible when the resources are adequately used and tools for the correct management of the territory are incorporated.

Strategies for the integrated management of biodiversity.


      Through the management of protected areas
      Through the management of strategic ecosystems, declaration of protected areas, or other complementary tools


      For preservation
      For sustainable use
      Through rehabilitation for sustainable use

      Sustainable use

      Through the management of natural resources
      Through the exploitation of natural resources


      Resource management in natural areas with flooding potential
      Renewable resource management in natural areas


      Resource management in semi-natural areas with flooding potential
      Renewable resource management in semi-natural areas

      Sustainable productive areas

      In ethnic territories
      Productive areas

Example of a interaction network between biodiversity levels, ecosystem services and development sectors

Colombia occupies the 20th position within the countries that produce petroleum.

Represents 2.4% of the country's total emissions of greenhouse gases.


1,000 l of water are needed to produce one gram of gold.

Coal mining represents 1.8% of the country's total emissions.

Hydroelectric power

Uses 21.5% of available water.

Representa el 8,5% de las emisiones totales de gases efecto de invernadero (GEI) del país.

Agriculture and cattle raising

The agricultural sector uses 46.6% of available water, whereas cattle raising uses 8.5%.

Agricultural and livestock production produces around 38% of the total greenhouse emissions (without considering emissions related to changes in soil use).