Exploring & Understanding Colombian Bio Resources


The Exploring & Understanding Colombian Bio Resources programme seeks to improve our understanding of socio-ecological systems in the Colombian regions of Boyacá and Cundinamarca, and their response to environmental change, including climate, land use, and social or political change; and the underpinning role and value of biodiversity in these ecosystems.

NERC and the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) are jointly funding this programme. The programme is supported by the UK through the Newton-Caldas Fund, which forms part of the UK government's Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment. This programme is a collaboration with the departments of Boyacá and Cundinamarca, who are providing support through the Colombian Administrative Department of Science, Technology & Innovation (Colciencias), for Colombian-led projects.

Additional funding awarded to Exploring & Understanding Colombian Bio Resources projects to enhance integration activities

20 Jun 2019

Additional funding has been awarded to enhance integration activities between the UK and Colombian projects funded as part of the Newton-funded Exploring & Understanding Colombian Bio Resources programme.

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Colombia holds almost 10% of the world's biodiversity and is one of the world's megadiverse countries, ranking first in bird and orchid species diversity and second in plants, butterflies, freshwater fishes and amphibians. There are 311 types of ecosystems within Colombia, making it a country of richly complex ecological, climatic, biological and ecosystem components.

Colombia's mainland is 53% covered with natural forests, which contain more than half of the terrestrial animals and plants, and more than two-thirds of terrestrial net primary production. About 2% is covered by moorlands, 19% of this moorland is in Boyacá, representing the largest expense of moorland in the country. The moorlands are considered one of the most important ecosystems for human well-being because they are a source of water to more than three-quarters of the population in these areas.

The country's biodiversity is not only important in terms of its natural heritage value and for the conservation of unique species, these natural resources are essential for their contribution to human welfare, social equality and economic development. Biodiversity both has a direct value through the provision of goods such as food, fibre, fuel and medicines, but also in how it underpins ecosystem processes and functions that contribute to other benefits such as climate regulation, soil formation, water purification and recreation, as well as providing ecosystem resilience.

After years of internal conflict, a recent peace deal has meant that previously inaccessible areas of the country are now opening up to exploration. This provides an opportunity to gain greater understanding of the country's natural resources, and inform and support socially inclusive sustainable management of ecosystems, recognising the value of indigenous knowledge, historical perspectives, cultural values and heritage as a way to stimulate community engagement.

The recently launched Colombia Bio is a ten-year Colombian national project that recognises the great value biodiversity represents to a country. The project aims to reduce gaps in science, technology and innovation related to the knowledge, conservation, management and sustainable use of the biodiversity, seeking to contribute to a sustainable and socially inclusive territorial development in a post-conflict scenario. This call contributes to UK-Colombian collaboration under Newton-Caldas Funds and the objectives of the Colombia Bio programme.

This collaborative UK and Colombian research programme will support the identification and understanding of the benefits provided by biodiversity, utilising new technologies, concepts and social frameworks. Research will explore the biodiversity of Colombia, increasing our understanding (including exploring indigenous knowledge) of the flora, fauna and soil microorganisms, and their role in ecosystem functioning, and the delivery of benefits and services, impacts of change, and options for management and exploitation. This new exploration and understanding will contribute to the development of a sustainable natural resource economy, thereby enhancing the environmental, social and economic future of Colombia.

Where appropriate, utilising new tools and techniques; for example, emergent high-throughput DNA tools, Earth observation and remote sensing and modelling, and integrated tool approaches; the programme will:

  • Develop baseline knowledge of Colombian regional biodiversity, structure and function.
  • Use this knowledge to understand biodiversity connectivity across scales, exploring resilience to, and potential regional impacts of, climate and environmental change (including management).
  • Explore the linkage between biodiversity and function, and the value of that biodiversity (such as its function, provision of resilience and value in society).
  • Provide a better understanding of human / nature relationships and the benefits that community engagement with the natural environment can bring to human well-being.
  • Explore how the history, culture and traditional knowledge of a region can influence key challenges related to the sustainable management of its ecosystems.

The overarching aim of this call is to gain a better understanding of socio-ecological systems in the Colombian regions of Boyacá and Cundinamarca and their response to environmental change, including climate, land use, and social or political change; and the underpinning role and value of biodiversity in these ecosystems. Whilst the work must benefit and be relevant to the two identified regions, research, if justified, can take place in regions beyond Boyacá and Cundinamarca.


2018 - 2021

Can I apply for a grant?

No, the funding round has closed.


NERC and AHRC will provide up to £5·5 million of funding (80% full economic cost) to eligible UK-based researchers.

Programme awards

Award details are shown in our live online grants browser - Grants on the Web (GOTW).

View live details of Colombian Bio funded grants - external link