Useful Plants and Fungi of Colombia (UPFC)

Understanding Colombia’s useful plants and fungi to improve people’s livelihoods, reducing inequality and gender gap by boosting its bioeconomy through the sustainable use of its biodiversity.

Green hills and mountains in sunny Colombia

Colombia is the world’s second most biodiverse country. Hosting more than 26,000 plant species, of which at least 4200 have useful reported uses.

The fungal diversity can be equally high, but still undiscovered.

Its cultural diversity is also impressive: described as one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the Western Hemisphere and in the World, Colombia holds 85 different ethnic groups, with 68 recognised native languages.

Despite its unique biological and cultural richness, vast social inequality with marked poverty in the rural areas has triggered more than six decades of internal conflict.

In recent years Colombia has established policies promoting sustainable use of biodiversity to develop its bioeconomy, to reduce this social gap and consolidate peace whilst following a green growth.

Although native non-crop plants and fungi have great potential to improve livelihoods and economic development in the country, knowledge on most useful species remains dispersed, largely inaccessible, and susceptible to disappearing overtime.

In addition, Colombia lost circa 5.5 million hectares of forest between 1990 and 2015, which is 200,000 hectares per year.

Also, the biodiversity loss with the associated disappearance of traditional knowledge on the conservation, use and management of plants and fungi, is accelerating.

This is mainly due to deforestation caused by agricultural expansion, urban development and illegal mining.

The overall goal of this 2.5-year anchor project is to develop pathways to enhance nature’s contribution to people in Colombia through increasing, consolidating and making accessible the knowledge on its useful plants and fungi for the benefit of local communities, and promoting a market for underutilised indigenous species and their high value products, to motivate the sustainable use of biodiversity whilst protecting the surrounding natural resources.

This project will document and broadly disseminate knowledge on useful plants and fungi of Colombia, reaching both general and academic audiences, as well as policy and decision makers.

This will be achieved mainly through online resources (e.g. ColPlantA and 2 resources that will be developed: ColFungi and SCN) and printed outputs, including books, booklets, scientific papers and reports.

This project will contribute to capacity building of researchers, academics, practitioners and policymakers in both countries.

Through the implementation of a supply chain network in three pilot areas, the project will improve communities’ livelihoods, while monitoring the impact on the ground.

In the mid-term, this project will increase awareness in the Colombian society about the importance and value of its diversity of useful plants and fungi.

This project will be achieved by pursuing 4 work packages:

  1. Continue gathering information on useful plants and fungi from Colombia, particularly from areas where there are knowledge gaps, and from species for which information is scanty (WP1)
  2. Disseminate knowledge on useful plants and fungi from Colombia in different formats to reach a broad audience (WP2)
  3. Develop a framework (Supply Chain Network - SCN) for creating sustainable value chains from plant and fungal diversity, enabling connection of knowledge and people’s livelihoods (WP3)
  4. Apply the framework of the SCN to improve local communities’ food security, health, dietary range and prosperity in three pilot areas (WP4).
Principal Investigator

Mauricio Diazgranados
Tiziana Ulian (Co-PI)

Project Manager

David Hammond

Team at Kew

Alex Monro
Anna Haigh
Benedetta Gori
Bob Allkin
Carolina Tovar
David Bishop
David Pearson
Ellie Graves
Ester Gaya
Hugh Pritchard
Ian Ondo
James Morley
Jenny Williams
Joaquim d'Souza
Joseph Ruff
Julia Carretero
Justin Moat
Kaitalin White
Laura Green
Laura Kor
Lee Davies
Louise Colville
Lynn Parker
Malcolm Stone
Marie-Helene Weech
Mark Nesbitt
Melanie-Jayne Howes
Nadia Bystriakova
Nicolas Black
Pablo Hendigo
Paul Kersey
Paul Wilkin
Priscilla Reis
Raquel Negrao
Rose Taylor
Santo Gomez
Sarah Phillips
Tim Utteridge
Tiziana Cossu
Vicky Murphy
Wiebke Hillebrecht
William Baker
William Milliken

Team at Humboldt Institute

Alejandra Aguilar
Alejandra Osejo
Amalia Díaz
Ana Garrido
Angélica Herrera
Camilo Garzón
Carlos Cortes
Carolina Castellanos
Carolina Soto
Carolina Quiñones
Clara Morales
Daniel Jiménez
Daniel López
Diana Marcela Moreno
Edwin Ríos
Emmerson Pastás
Felipe García
Germán Torres
Lina Guevara
Marcela Cely
Mariana Noguera Pizano
Mario Murcia
Mateo Fernández
Natalia Vargas
Nestor R. Salinas
Paola Acosta
Sabina Bernal
Tatiana Rojas
Tatiana Sanjuan

For Press and Communications

Maria del Pilar Mira

Humboldt Institute, Colombia


Aida Marcella Vasco Palacios
Robert Lücking 
Tatiana Sanjuan
Bibiana Moncada
Adriana Corrales 
Ana Cristina Bolaños Rojas
Ana Esperanza Franco-Molano
Ehidy Rocio Peña Cañón
Martha Lucia Ortiz Moreno
Mauricio Ramirez Castrillón
Nataly Gómez Montoya 
Viviana Motato-Vásquez
Yeina Milena Niño Fernandez
Edier Soto 
Diego Simijaca 
Fabiola Gonzalez