Postcard from the Field: Greening the Desert

By Climatelinks

Illegal alluvial gold mining in Colombia is a complex phenomenon that not only sweeps away vegetation but alters the balance of ecosystems through aggressive mechanical extraction methods that create deserts. In Antioquia, Colombia, this has degraded over 45 thousand hectares of land, stripping away valuable trees that can absorb carbon dioxide, one of the main greenhouse gases. The USAID-Oro Legal Activity brought together indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities, the private sector, and local and departmental governments to mitigate the environmental impact of uncontrolled mineral exploitation on more than one thousand hectares of degraded ex-mining land. Today, more than 1.1 million Acacia mangium trees and other native species are greening large tracts of land where just a few years ago, only rocks and bare soil could be found.

Postcards from the field features submissions to the Climatelinks photo gallery. This photo was submitted to the “Protecting natural systems in a changing world” category of the 2019 Climatelinks photo contest. The Climatelinks community is encouraged to submit new photos to the gallery through this submission form.

Strategic Objective
Adaptation, Mitigation
Adaptation, Ecosystem-based Adaptation, Biodiversity, Emissions, Conflict and Governance, Forestry, Indigenous, Mitigation, Sustainable Landscapes
Latin America & Caribbean



Climatelinks is a global knowledge portal for USAID staff, implementing partners, and the broader community working at the intersection of climate change and international development. The portal curates and archives technical guidance and knowledge related to USAID’s work to help countries mitigate and adapt to climate change. 

More on the Blog

Climate adaptation can take many forms, ranging from disaster risk reduction to natural resources management, according to the Fifth Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
This blog is part of the Benefits of Climate Risk Management blog series that aims to provide evidence-based deep dives into USAID case studies. A USAID-funded Cambodia fisheries project outperformed productivity goals after incorporating climate-sensitive design, including planning for increased risk of drought and extreme heat events.
In December 2019, Typhoon Kammuri flooded parts of Legazpi City, one of the biggest natural hazard hotspots in the country. Earlier that year, USAID had helped the local water district develop an emergency preparedness plan for maintaining and restoring water services when disasters strike.