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The northwest Andes of Colombia was identified as an area of utmost importance for protection and restoration after Rapid Assessment expeditions were done to identify strategic areas for conservation in 2006. Currently, over 7,000 acres of forests are being protected at the Mesenia-Paramillo nature reserve, which include the "El Olinguito" and "El Puma" forests. The Mesenia-Paramillo nature reserve is the main watershed of the San Juan Antioquia, San Juan Bravo Chocó and Dojurgo rivers, the latter being a main tributary of the San Juan Antioquia river.
The nature reserve has over 7000 acres of forests located in three states: Antioquia, Risaralda and Caldas. This was the first conservation project established by BIOCONSERVANCY (formerly The Hummingbird Conservancy) which began in 2008. Protecting both the San Juan Antioquia and San Juan Bravo Chocó river watersheds, the biodiversity value of this area is incalculable.
Given the great biological wealth found in the area of the reserve, we have dedicated a large part of our efforts to carrying out studies and inventories of biodiversity. To accomplish this, we have contacted scientists and students belonging to universities and institutes, both national and international. Several groups of vertebrates, invertebrates and plants have been studied.
Birds have been the most studied group of vertebrates so far. Over 20% of all bird species found in Colombia inhabit the Mesenia-Paramillo nature reserve. There are 30 IUCN threatened and 26 endemic or restricted-range bird species at the reserve, making this area one of the most critical habitats for birds in all of the Americas. A total of 406 bird species have been recorded and most are included in our new bird guide (PDF accesible below).
Spizaetus isidori juvenil
Mammalian studies have also been done with the participation of students from the University of Antioquia, lead by Professor Sergio Solari. In 2013, the first carnivore species to be discovered in the Western hemisphere in 35 years, Baciricyon neblina, known as Olinguito was photographed at the reserve in 2011. Twenty-four camera traps have been placed strategically to "capture" various species. So far 54 species of non-flying mammals in 22 families have been detected.
Amphibians and reptiles have been researched with Adolfo Amezquita, our Science Director, where 37 species of the former and 47 of the latter have been found and additionally a significant number of new species, 10 and 8, respectively, have been discovered. Three frog species been published published so far: a poison-dart-frog, Andinobates cassidyhornae, and two Pristimantis, P. ferwerdai and P. postducheminorum. Seven more Pristimantis and one Rhaebo will be described. Three lizards of the Pholidobolus genera have been described and Anadia hollandi sp. nov. has been published. In order to streamline the identification of new species, a molecular lab has been established at the reserve.
Regarding invertebrates, it has been possible to register nearly 1,000 species of nocturnal moths. It has been no easy task to identify these species.
We are also working on the identification of Darwin Wasps (Ichneumonidae) and Spider Wasps (Pompilidae) with a group of researchers from Brazil: Rodrigo Araujo, Bernardo Santos, Diego Padua, Daniell Rodrigues and Eduardo Fernando Dos Santos. In this two families we have already found a significant number of new species. Three scientific articles have already been published. The most recent describing five new species of Dolichomitus (Pimplinae) and new record for Colombia of the Anomalonine subfamily.
Regarding plants, the main study groups has been the orchids and anthuriums. Nearly 100 species of the former and 130 of the latter have been identified at the reserve. Recently an important discovery was made of a new Dracula orchid. Named after Irmelin Indenbirken, mother of philantropist Leonardo DiCaprio, Dracula irmelinae was confirmed as being a new species for science. Additionally, over 200 species of Araceae were recently collected at the reserve by a group of national and international botanists. Thomas Croat, world renowned Araceae expert is currently describing many new species found. More info on the following link:
Dracula irmelinae sp. nov.
Epidendrum paniculorugulosom sp nov
Dracula irmelinae sp. nov.
One of our main objectives is to rebuild connectivity between forest fragments, focusing on those areas with water sources. Therefore, we intend to restore 566 hectares of pasturelands in the next five years to create corridors that allow for wildlife populations to mobilize, in addition to generating greater water wealth in the San Juan de Antioquia river basin. The assisted restoration will require some 1 million native trees to provide a solid base for pastures to be colonized by natural plant species (video below). Tree nurseries have been built by families of the La Mesenia village and will be tended mainly by women. These will be an important source of income for the families that participate in the project. We also intend to include several species of endangered Magnolia within the scope of this restoration process: Magnolia jardinensis, Critically Endangered [CR C2a(i); D]; M. espinalii, Critically Endangered [CR C2a(i); D]; M. hernandezii, Endangered [EN A2cd]; M. yarumalensis, Endangered [EN A2acd; B2ab(iii,v)]; and M. urraoensis, Endangered [EN B1ab(iii,v)+2ab(iii,v)].
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