9 April 2021

Lebrija River Basin and Landscape


Lebrija River Basin and Landscape

Last week the Proforest team visited the Lebrija River basin in Colombia, as part of a landscape project to tackle the problems of deforestation and water management in palm oil production. The team met with representatives of mills, NGOs and communities to understand the social and environmental problems and conflicts in the region.

Palm crops have been one of the main drivers of deforestation in the region, especially on the riparian buffer zones alongside the river. Moreover, poor waste management during the palm oil production process has affected the wider ecosystem, creating conflicts with communities, such as fishermen, who have seen the quantity and quality of fish decrease. 

Working at the landscape level can preserve forests and natural ecosystems by addressing environmental and social conflicts, including labor issues and smallholder livelihoods. Such initiatives are aligned with the sustainability policies and KPIs set by international palm oil retailers, who represent an important stakeholder in the region. 

Proforest's activities will include facilitating engagement between the private sector, government and lcal NGOs to identify common goals and objectives, and to align implementation of existing initiatives and planned interventions. Ensuring local ownership of issues and solutions is a core principle of Proforest's work.   

We will be working with different stakeholders to provide a holistic perspective of the problems facing the region; to guide the agreement of a common baseline and priority areas for intervention; review existing interventions to identify gaps and shared solutions; support implement plans, while building capacity within a network of local practitioners to enable long-term local interventions on the ground. 

For Proforest Colombia, this was the first opportunity to return to the field after a long year of travel restrictions due to COVID-19. Jose Alejandro Moreno and Daniela Espejo spent a week at the Lebrija River basin. They were able to talk to the communities directly about their problems and at the same time work with palm oil mills, NGOs and other organizations. This collaboration is essential to facilitate meaningful discussions, so we can jointly build solutions for the people and the landscape of the region.