Plant Conservation in Colombia: interdisciplinary approaches for the protection of useful plant species

Lead Research Organisation: King's College London
Department Name: Geography


Plants underpin all terrestrial ecosystems on earth. Despite this, two in five species risk extinction, driven by habitat conversion, overexploitation and climate change. This project approaches plant conservation in Colombia through a socio-ecological lens. Research will focus on useful plant species - species with reported direct or indirect human uses. Colombia is the world's second most biodiverse country. However, large knowledge gaps remain, and new conservation opportunities and challenges are rapidly emerging following the 2016 Peace Agreement.
This project will evaluate approaches to sustainable plant use and management in the Andean Community region, assessing the concept of "conservation-through-use". At the national level, biogeographic analyses will be applied to guide conservation action and identify Important Plant Areas (IPAs) for useful plants in Colombia. Such methods will be compared to local knowledge and priorities through a case study approach at the municipality-level. Finally, to guide next steps after identification, the application and outcomes of the global IPA programme to date will be evaluated through a literature review and engagement of key stakeholders. Research will be in collaboration with the Underutilised Plants and Fungi of Colombia (UP&F) project at Kew. An interdisciplinary approach is fundamental. Ethnobotany relies on multiple disciplines; as a post-conflict nation, conservation efforts in Colombia must integrate development and local communities; and successful conservation must consider future change. This complements global conservation strategies - the new post-2020 global biodiversity framework emphasises the need to conserve biodiversity for "planet and people".


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
NE/S007229/1 30/09/2019 29/09/2027
2235788 Studentship NE/S007229/1 22/09/2019 31/10/2023 Laura Beatrice Kor
Description SSPP Small Grants
Amount £250 (GBP)
Organisation King's College London 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2021 
End 06/2022
Description Useful Plants and Fungi of Colombia 
Organisation Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Research and analyses contributing to the conservation research question of the Useful Plants and Fungi of Colombia Project.
Collaborator Contribution Supervisory support, research network including in-country contacts in Colombia, and financial support for fieldwork.
Impact Publication in Ambio, book chapter in an upcoming publication entitled the Catalogue of Useful Plants of Colombia.
Start Year 2019
Description Interview for magazine 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I was interviewed for the British Ecological Society magazine, The Niche. This resulted in a colouring page being produced based on my research which was published in the December 2021 issue of the magazine and sent to its 5,000 members.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
Description Panel Discussion 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I was invited to a panel discussion at the Cheltenham Science Festival on the topic of conservation. There were approximately 40 members of the public who attended in person, with the event also streamed live on-line, with a further 20 people watching.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021