Promoting Nature Tourism to Prevent Deforestation

The project develops quality tourism products for local communities based on scientific nature tourism to counteract deforestation. 
santa marta, colombia
Project duration
2021 - 2022
Financed by
  • Fondo Colombia Sostenible

The project

The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta region is known for its natural beauty and biodiversity. Nature tourism focuses on natural attractions such as a forest, waterfalls or lakes. The project aims to promote nature tourism initiatives, highlighting science tourism as a strategy to conserve biodiversity and reduce deforestation in Colombia. The development of a tourism product aims to encourage environmentally conscious researchers and scientists to visit the region.

This destination offers:

  • Optimal access to domestic and foreign markets due to multiple access points by air, road and sea
  • Favourable positioning of the Colombian Caribbean and the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta on an international level as a place of great biodiversity and cultural richness
  • Scientifically recognised destination: 49 scientific articles, 25 bachelor's and master's theses and 4 books dealing with research on flora, fauna, conservation, tourism and culture

The project hopes to create a differentiated tourism offer that provides livelihoods for local communities and focuses on scientific tourism, while promoting environmental conservation and protection measures that help counteract activities that lead to deforestation.

Objectives of the project

To preserve the biodiversity of the dry and humid tropical forests of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta through strategies of conservation, regeneration, sustainable use and agro-ecological practices focused on the study of strategic ecosystems, wildlife habitats and cultural and spiritual richness. A place where the community is organised and prepared to support the generation of scientific knowledge about biodiversity, attracting researchers, students and experts interested in discovering and monitoring local flora and fauna.  

By 2032, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta will be a sustainable and profitable destination, with great ecological, cultural, spiritual and climatic richness and greater scientific and local knowledge of biodiversity, providing important ecosystem services linked to travel experiences based on biodiversity conservation, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and the fight against deforestation, for which it will be recognised and visited by domestic and foreign universities and researchers.  

  • Preventing and mitigating the risks to people and the environment associated with tourism, while ensuring a safe journey for visitors.
  • Invest in infrastructure, facilities and equipment to improve and adapt accommodation, catering, workplaces and guide training, taking into account the consumption needs of visitors.
  • Implementing processes, procedures and measures necessary for efficient, responsible, sustainable and high quality operations to ensure visitor satisfaction.

The concept underlying the creation of this destination is based on the acquisition of scientific knowledge for the conservation of one of the most biodiverse places on earth with great climatic and cultural richness, where local communities are organised and prepared to provide activities, services and facilities for the study of the socio-ecological relationships of diverse and emblematic species of flora and fauna in strategic ecosystems of rainforest and tropical dry forest in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. This is an ancestral and sacred area that provides important ecosystem services such as nature-based scientific tourism.

The project will jointly develop a promotion and marketing strategy for the effective marketing of science tourism products.  

Understanding the support and funding system to build commercial partnerships with key stakeholders for the destination and its science tourism products.  

Seven market segments for science tourism were identified:    

  • National and international universities on field trips
  • National and international researchers on field courses
  • National and international researchers conducting undergraduate theses
  • Students and researchers in volunteering
  • NGOs or entities in expeditions and scientific research

Project partners

  • Alcaldía de Santa Marta
  • Ministry of Environment
  • Corporación Autónoma Regional en el Magdalena
  • National parks
  • Institute Humboldt
  • Universidad del Magdalena
  • Universidad del Norte
  • Ministry of Commerce
  • Ministry of Science


  • A product based on scientific nature tourism
  • An information system for the construction of environmental data and deforestation control, linked to the collection at the 11 camera traps
  • Technical, environmental, economic and social sustainability plans
  • Construction of instruments to measure the degree of visitor satisfaction