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Encompassing less than one percent of the world's land mass, Colombia's total forest coverage accounts for 10 percent of the earth's biodiversity. Colombia's forests are home to 55,000 plant species, one-third of which are endemic. In addition, Colombia’s forests contain more than 1,821 species of birds, 623 species of amphibians, 467 species of mammals, 518 species of reptiles, and 3,200 species of fish. The country is made up of two major physical regions: the broad lowlands, which extend over almost two-thirds of the country in the east, and the Andes, with its large valleys and basins in the west. Despite its large territory, Colombia's population is not evenly distributed with most Colombians living in the mountainous western portion of the country as well as the northern coastline. The southern and eastern portions of the country are mostly sparsely inhabited tropical rainforest and inland tropical plains.

Threats to the Forest
Colombia is among the top ten most deforested countries around the world. Deforestation in Colombia results primarily from agricultural activities, logging, mining, energy development, infrastructure construction, and the cocaine trade. Approximately 2 million acres are deforested each year, and, at this rate, Colombia's woodlands will be depleted in forty years. Such deforestation has increased the rate of extinction for many plant and animal species, many of which are endemic to the country.

Why Does the US Forest Service Work in Colombia?
The US Forest Service has worked in Colombia for several years. Conserving critical winter habitat of migratory birds, that summer in forests in the United States, has been at the forefront of the program. Partners involved in the migratory bird program include The Nature Conservancy and Cenicafé. In addition, assistance has been provided to the US Agency for International Development's Colombia Mission - MIDAS program on the development of a forest transparency model.

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Cerulean Warbler Habitat Management
The US Forest Service, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, is working on the implementation of priority conservation strategies for the Cerulean Warbler in the Northern Andes. Researchers are studying the foraging behavior of Cerulean Warblers in the Cordillera Occidental of the Colombian Andes. Surveyed habitats include shade coffee plantations, shade cardamom plantations, mature and second growth forests. The results of the research demonstrate that the species is distributed throughout the Andes Mountains of Colombia, along both East and West slopes of the three Cordilleras .

In addition, the US Forest Service is partnering with Cenicafé, the research center of the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia, to promote biodiversity education and conservation in the Cerulean Warbler habitat range. Specifically, one of the activities this partnership has developed is a model for cooperative education, biodiversity conservation, and specialty coffee production in 12 localities in the coffee growing regions of Colombia

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Log Tracking
Colombia faces major challenges in achieving a stable and sustainable forest products industry. Illegal logging, in particular, is causing huge distortions in domestic timber market prices and makes any efforts to enforce natural forest management plan guidelines almost obsolete. US Forest Service technical experts provided support to the USAID/Colombia Mission - MIDAS program on the development of a forest transparency model that would track legally harvested timber in managed natural forests to the market, improve natural forest management governance, establish responsible purchasing policies by timber users, specify legal wood in building projects, and catalyze market forces to support improved forest management.

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