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Ecological Restoration in Cattle Ranching Landscapes


The Colombian Cattle Ranching Association (FEDEGAN-FNG), in partnership with the Center for Research on Sustainable Agriculture Production Systems (CIPAV), The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and The Environmental and Childhood Action Fund (FPAA), is implementing the Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Colombian Cattle Ranching project (known as GCS). The objective of the this seven-year project (2010-17) is to help ensure that cattle ranching practices in five geographic regions of Colombia contribute to the sustainable use of natural resources by adopting environmentally friendly production systems that enhance livestock productivity, conserve globally significant biodiversity and reduce soil degradation. Additionally, the project aims to increase the connectivity between natural ecosystems embedded within the productive landscape matrix.

To meet this goal and to learn from existing experiences in Latin America, the GCS approached the Environmental Leadership and Training Initiative (ELTI) to identify capacity building priorities for the project’s technical staff and develop a training strategy for 2014. As a result, ELTI worked with FEDEGAN-FNG to design the course entitled, Ecological Restoration in Cattle Ranching Landscapes.

This course will introduce FEDEGAN-FNG’s technical team to the basics of forest ecology, natural and anthropogenic disturbances of forests and the principles of ecological restoration. The overall objective of the course is to provide these practitioners with the knowledge needed to evaluate and compare methodologies for restoring tropical forests that are adapted to the biophysical and socio-economic conditions of the region where they work.


Module 1. Introduction to the basic concepts of conservation and environmental services (ES) for cattle ranching landscapes (focused in Colombia)

  • Past and present of sustainable cattle ranching
  • Introduction to environmental services
  • Biodiversity conservation and ecological restoration in agricultural landscapes
  • Field trip #1: Visit for a field exercise about environmental indicators in the soil
  • Case study #1: Restoration experiences in severely eroded zones
  • Case study #2: Restoration experiences with native species

Module 2. Sustainable cattle ranching: environmental and productive contributions

  • Sustainable cattle ranching as an alternative for restoring in cattle ranching landscapes
  • Colombian Sustainable Cattle Ranching Project: Biodiversity conservation as the axis of the design
  • Case study #3: Riparian corridors and water quality in cattle ranching landscapes
  • Field trip #2: Visit to a farm to see conventional vs sustainable cattle ranching, riparian corridors, integration of productive areas with conservation areas and some implementation options

Module 3. Basic concepts for ecological restoration in agricultural landscapes and technical aspects of restoration

  • Degradation of tropical forests
  • Forest succession and ecological restoration
  • Factors to consider in the restoration of agricultural and cattle ranching landscapes
  • Environmental adaptation of rural properties
  • Restoration models with possibility of economical use
  • Field trip #3: Visit to a farm for the identification and diagnostics of degraded areas and defining restoration actions for the mail local situations
  • Restoration monitoring in agricultural landscapes and social participation in ecological restoration
  • Case study #4: Participatory research in El Dovio, Colombia
  • Productive restoration
  • Evaluation and monitoring
  • Operational activities for forest restoration
  • Alternative methods and techniques of forest restoration
  • Methods and techniques for the production of plant material
  • Field trip #4: Visit to see forest patches for seed collection
  • Case study #5:  Selecting and propagating tree species for ecological restoration in the Colombian Sustainable Cattle Ranching Project

Module 4. Environmental, social and financial dimensions and their relevance in the restorations of cattle ranching landscapes

  • National Ecological Restoration Plan for Colombia
  • Other important factors: Communication, technical assistance and support
  • Emerging themes in ecological restoration