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John-Rob Pool

Santiago de Cali (or Cali) is the third-largest city in Colombia and is known for its salsa music, party atmosphere, and friendly people. The city administration has taken strong action to protect its forests, aiming to connect Cali with its nearby green areas and to empower its citizens to protect natural resources. Cali’s trees are its greatest treasure and the city is ready to share insights, experiences, and innovations to inspire and mobilize actions as part of Cities4Forests.


Santiago de Cali has inherited important water resources and natural wealth, including the Los Farallones National Park, a pristine urban jungle of 196,429 hectares inside the city. Thanks to its inner and nearby forests, Cali is the Colombian city with the greatest diversity of bird species.

Cali is committed to protecting all of its biodiversity, including its variety of tropical trees and the wildlife around its different water sources (Cali is surrounded by seven different rivers). Cities4Forests provides Cali with valuable knowledge, as well as offering the opportunity to connect with other cities.


Cali is located in the luscious Valle del Cauca, between the mighty Farallones National Park and the Cauca River (view videos), and less than 3 hours from the Pacific coast – making the city a perfect place for nature lovers. There are 103 registered endemic bird species that flock to the Finca Alejandría – a bird paradise set high in a cloud forest one hour west of Cali. The Finca was started by Raúl Nieto and Elsa Ruíz who wanted to help recover this delicate ecosystem whilst allowing the public to enjoy its wildlife.


The City Of Birds

At the beginning of the 20th century, Frank M. Chapman, curator of birds at the American Museum of Natural History, conducted a series of expeditions in Colombian territory to document the country’s birdlife. “Colombia was selected as our first field of operations because […] it possesses a greater variety of animal life than any other part of South America of similar extent,” he wrote. Chapman and his colleagues traveled from Buenaventura to Santiago de Cali, dubbed “the City of Birds”. They chose Cali as a base camp due to its strategic location and abundant biodiversity. Today, Cali remains surrounded by wildlife – in fact, it is the Colombian city with the greatest bird diversity with 562 reported species. This is 25% more than in the rest of Colombia – the country that has the most bird species on earth. This is a positive environmental indicator, and also good for tourism: the Colombian Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism expects the arrival of about 15,000 bird watchers a year, and, as Chapman already stated, the best place to observe birds is in Cali and its surroundings.

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