Grupo Argos Foundation

CIRCA, the first research and conservation center for tropical forests in Antioquia, was inaugurated in the municipality of La Pintada

21 July 2023
  • CIRCA opened its doors this Friday, July 21st, with the purpose of offering and developing alternatives for the propagation of plant material, education, and research on tropical forests and other ecosystems associated with the middle basin of the Cauca River.
  • This research center had an investment of over COP 2.1 billion and has the capacity to produce 500,000 seedlings per year of native species from the tropical forests in the southwest of Antioquia. This region currently sustains only 22% of its original vegetation cover.
  • The construction of CIRCA became possible thanks to the joint efforts and will of the Grupo Argos Foundation, Odinsa through its concession in La Pintada, Comfama, and the Julio C. Hernández Foundation.
  • From CIRCA, research projects will be led with the aim of addressing various topics that help tackle the challenges in the Cartama region.

Through a symbolic planting ceremony, the inauguration of CIRCA took place, the research and conservation center for the forests of the Cauca River. This initiative involved the President of Odinsa, Mauricio Ossa Echeverri, the responsible person for regions at Comfama, Mauricio Pérez Salazar, non-governmental organizations, and the community of the southwest of Antioquia. The center aims to contribute to the protection of various ecosystems, including the tropical dry forest, which is considered one of the most threatened in the country.

As the first of its kind in Antioquia and the second in Colombia, CIRCA’s construction became a reality thanks to the collaboration of Grupo Argos Foundation, Odinsa through its concession in La Pintada, Comfama, and the Julio C. Hernández Foundation. The facilities of CIRCA include germination, vegetation, growth, and hardening areas, as well as an environmental classroom. Additionally, it will feature a weather station to monitor the local climate conditions, and camera traps will be installed to identify the wildlife that roams this area.

“The commencement of operations of CIRCA represents a significant milestone for the processes of restoration and conservation of strategic ecosystems that we are carrying out from the Grupo Argos Foundation in the southwest of Antioquia, and an opportunity for the region to continue consolidating its growth and development in a sustainable manner.”

María Camila Villegas Executive Director, Grupo Argos Foundation

“This center, a product of a powerful alliance, materializes our commitment to sustainability and the development of the Southwest region; under a comprehensive vision that allows us to contribute to the care of ecosystems, capacity building in the territory, and the promotion of the bioeconomy.”

Mauricio Ossa President of Odinsa and member of the Board of Directors of Grupo Argos Foundation

“This project enables us to support new processes for strengthening local capacities in agriculture, environmental education, and regeneration in the Southwest. Furthermore, it serves as a space to understand the region from new perspectives and continue promoting strategic alliances for territorial development from Comfama.”

Mauricio Pérez Responsible for Regions at Comfama

To address the protection of this ecosystem comprehensively, CIRCA is based on three fundamental pillars:

  • Plant Material Production: CIRCA will produce around 500,000 seedlings of native species per year. The center aims to become a strategic ally for the development of compensation, restoration, and biodiversity conservation projects by having specialized technical personnel with expertise in the characteristics of the region’s ecosystems.
  • Environmental Classroom: With the objective of raising greater awareness about the importance of the tropical dry forest ecosystem and other ecosystems along the Cauca River, this space is open to the public, promoting the integration of knowledge and sharing experiences in restoration and conservation processes.
  • Research and Education: The center will drive research projects in five areas: plant production, water quality in nurseries, meteorology, biodiversity, and bioeconomy. Additionally, it will develop environmental education initiatives to contribute to building awareness for the protection and care of both wet and tropical dry forests.

This research center adds to the efforts of allied institutions to promote the development and sustainability of the Southwest region of Antioquia, through generating employment opportunities and undertaking projects for conservation, restoration, and protection of water resources. In the tropical Andes, there are 474 identified key biodiversity areas and conservation corridors, with 119 of them located in Colombia. The Cartama region is one of the prioritized areas for conservation activities due to the high probability of species extinction in the short or medium term and the presence of endangered species such as the Andean bear, the yellow-eared parrot, and the puma, among others.