Risaralda Model Forest

In a nutshell

The Risaralda Model Forest was created by landscape management stakeholders in the Risaralda department interested in sharing experiences, forging partnerships and working together with other regions at a national and international level, focusing on sustainable development.

Part of the Risaralda Model Forest is located in the Colombian coffee belt, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Risaralda Model Forest platform has enabled stronger actions and participation by communal organizations and local and regional governments in consolidating this patrimony. In addition, the Risaralda Model Forest hosts a particular ecosystem, the guadua forest (Guadua angustifolia Kunth), which represents a source of income for rural producers who use and grow it, some of whom have been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

Our main challenges consist in widening the social stakeholder base and developing projects that strengthen sustainable livelihoods facing climate change, as well as promoting sustainable production systems, and conserving biodiversity.


The Risaralda Model Forest is located in the Department of Risaralda, in the central sector of the Colombian Andean region. It has an area of approximately 3600 km2, corresponding to 0.3% of the country, and altitudes between less than 2000 to more than 5000 masl.

The Risaralda Model Forest region is characterized by a diversity of landscapes. Part of its area is immersed within the Colombian coffee belt ecoregion, with its particular ecosystem and cultural features. Risaralda is the only department in the ecoregion that borders with the Pacific. Thus, its landscape is located in a highly biodiverse area, which is also severely threatened by human activity­: the Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena biodiversity hotspot.

The Risaralda Model Forest comprises three subregions. Subregion I contains the larger cities and the Otún river basin, home to about 500,000 people; metal-mechanic, clothes manufacturing, and service industries are gathered here. The Risaralda river basin, located in Subregion II, includes the predominant agricultural area, growing mostly coffee and, to a lesser degree, cacao, pineapple, sugar cane and fruits. Subregion III holds large reserves of tropical rainforests, and Risaralda holds more protected areas than any other Colombian department. This subregion is also home to indigenous people and people of African descent.

From a sociocultural standpoint, the Risaralda Model Forest is characterized by ethnic and cultural plurality; several indigenous groups, people of African descent and mestizos shape its population. Seventy-seven percent of the population inhabits the urban area, while the rest lives in the rural zones. Regional economy is based on commerce, industry, agriculture, and livestock. The main farming activities are coffee production and livestock for both dairy and beef.


The Risaralda Model Forest has maintained a constant coordination and collaborative governance effort through its Steering Group. The group serves as a planning and discussion instance for interinstitutional collaborative actions that complement those of Steering Group partners. This group is constituted by the following:

  • Regional Autonomous Corporation of Risaralda (CARDER);
  • Technological University of Pereira;
  • Risaralda Government, and
  • Coffee Producers Departmental Committee.

There is a Strategic Plan in place, and the Technological University of Pereira is in charge of management.


Strategic goals:

  • To promote social and environmental sustainability in the Model Forest landscape.
  • To implement landscape-level management.
  • To promote development and knowledge transfer.

Key actions in place to reach these goals:

  • Promoting the environmental goods and services offer.
  • Conserving and restoring ecosystems.
  • Developing an effective participatory governance design for the Model Forest.
  • Developing cultural, environmental and economic innovation in the Model Forest landscape.
  • Designing a financial mechanism system that enables the actions proposed for the Model Forest (environmental funds, payment for environmental services, access to markets, and technical assistance, among others).

Key impacts:

  • Associative models that group Model Forest producers.
  • Thirty-six percent of the Model Forest is integrated into the Protected Areas Departmental System.
  • Implementation of River Basin Environmental Management Plans.

Learn more about Risaralda Model Forest :

2018 Strategic Plan: Plataforma-Estratégica-del-Bosque-Modelo-Risaralda (in Spanish)

Video: Bosque Modelo Risaralda, visita virtual (in Spanish)

Video: Risaralda, un Bosque Modelo para el mundo, parte 1 (in Spanish)

Video: Risaralda, un Bosque Modelo para el mundo, parte 2  (in Spanish)




Department of Risaralda

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Latin-American Model Forest Network

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Contact information

Email: Bosquemodelorisaralda@utp.edu.co

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