History of the Vichada Region
Our plantation lies within the Llanos Orientales ecotype (hereafter referred to as the Llanos), which is comprised of a mix of woodland and grassland species.
The Llanos is one of the largest wetland complexes in the world, with a unique mix of riparian and palm forests within the borders of northern Colombia and Venezuela, along the Meta River, which separates the Colombian departments of Vichada, Casanare, Arauca, and the Republic of Venezuela.
The majority of the Llanos Savanna near Forest First Colombia’s plantation has been transformed through historical grazing activities. However, the conditions and economics for cattle production are very poor. Due to the high levels of rainfall, the local grass species are coarse and hard for cattle to digest. As a result, the savannas have very low capacity to support livestock. What’s more, the market for beef is distant from Vichada. Therefore, in most cases, cattle grazing is not economically viable, and cattle numbers have decreased considerably in recent years.
Unfortunately, due to a lack of alternative economic opportunities, local communities have tried to make the most of the situation and it has become common practice to set uncontrolled wildfires – known as “slash and burn” – several times a year to encourage new grass shoots to emerge from the soil, which are easier for cows to eat and digest. This practice has helped transform the landscape into severely degraded grasslands that have little to no productive use. This has resulted in widespread environmental degradation including soil erosion, reduced water quality in the rivers, reduced water infiltration into the soils, and negative impacts on biodiversity.