Cloud forests are well protected by one of our stewards: Fundación Guanacas, Bosques de Niebla. This non-governmental organization located in northern Colombia works towards the conservation and expansion of crucial ecosystems called cloud forests, which are basically rainforests at high altitudes.
These forests occur when thick vegetation reaches high mountains, and clouds help to create a humid environment filled with rainwater and atmospheric moisture (mist). They are also biodiversity-rich biomes since they are home to numerous endemic species whose survival is interconnected.
To protect cloud forests and all life within them from the climate crisis, Fundación Guanacas works incessantly to conserve the area but to pursue their mission, they need our collaboration.
This is why they became one of our stewards: through our app, you can connect with Fundación Guanacas and support them financially in order to conserve their ecosystem and wildlife.
Water factories from the clouds
As mentioned, cloud forests have unique features that make biodiversity thrive. These exceptional biomes are an important source of water for rivers, which also means that they are vital to many species living in the area.
In fact, “Guanacas” is not only the name of one of the towns in which the reserve is located, but it is also an indigenous term that means “sacred water over stone,” an accurate concept if we consider the function of this natural system, where vegetation transforms fog into the water, becoming an essential regulator of the water cycle.
Heavenly vegetation in a delicate circle
Cloud forests are also home to many endemic species that need this environment to survive. Within the surrounding flora at Fundación Guanacas, you can typically find incredible orchids (Epidendrum fimbriatum), towering oaks (Quercus humboldtii), magnificent ferns (Cyatheaceae), breathtaking wax palms (Ceroxylon quindiuense) and ancient trees like “Alma Negra” (Magnolia sp).
All the endemic flora in cloud forests plays a part in its delicate balance, so let’s explore one of the most beautiful ones: orchids. These outstanding plants with colorful flowers are found on almost all continents, but in cloud forests they have the highest number of species.
Why are orchids so important? They are flowers that support pollinators; they offer their nectar to bees, flies, butterflies, and humming-birds, which in turn go and spread pollen to fertilize other plants. When any population of plants or animals drops, this cycle is interrupted, breaking the chain, which means many ecological problems arise.
Heights where animals find shelter
The fauna of cloud forests is also very diverse. Up there, many species of birds find food and shelter. We could mention, for example, the Andean motmot (Momotus aequatorialis), a blue-capped bird that lives at very high altitudes (it can nest at 3100m), or the green jay (Cyanocorax yncas) and the sparrow (Atlapetes blancae), which is now a critically endangered species.
There are other peculiar animals, such as the “chocolate” frog (Hyloscirtus antioquia), a dark brown tree frog whose habitat is getting smaller every day.
Felines are also part of this foggy scenery, including the cougar (Puma concolor), the northern tiger cat (Leopardus tigrinus), and the ocelot (Leopardus pardalis). These three species play a key role in the ecosystem’s balance.
Cloud forests need all the help they can get
In 1970, cloud forests covered 50 million hectares of land. Presently, we are losing 1% each year.
Colombia, home to the foundation, is the largest area containing these ecosystems, but now only 10–20% of them remain. This is due to many factors, such as population growth, unsustainable land use, and global warming.
The rising temperatures force cloud forests to go even higher, reaching greater altitudes each year, while lower elevations suffer from deforestation. This means that the amount of heat produced results in less cloud moisture and the death of many species that rely on the typical humidity of that environment.
Other consequences of climate change for cloud forests include more natural disasters due to harder and more frequent storms, animal migration, and the loss of biodiversity.
Felines, frogs, lizards, ancient trees, bees, orchids, and even lichens could disappear if it weren’t for the work of organizations like Fundación Guanacas, and Bosques de Niebla. More than ever, they need our help to save cloud forests and restore their splendor.
An organization with an important mission
As mentioned before, the climate crisis is affecting cloud forests negatively. That is why part of Fundación Guanacas’s job is to keep this natural sanctuary as intact as possible and to restore what is already damaged. They have a conservation territory of approximately 762 hectares and created many programs aimed at addressing specific topics related to cloud forest conservation.
The foundation also acts as an ecotourist location where you can, among other activities, camp, and practice birdwatching. They are also involved in investigative and educational projects that raise awareness about the importance of cloud forests.
To support them, you can:
- Adopt a sparrow.
- Give a tree as a gift.
- Plant a wax palm under your name.
These steps are simplified in our app, where you can connect with Fundación Guanacas by adopting a hectare of your choosing and supporting its conservation efforts at the tap of a button.
Follow us to learn more about Fundación Guanacas and Lemu.