Voices of the Forest. Carmen de Bolívar

Voces del Bosque took place between August and November 2023. It is an arts and science project that addresses the causes of deforestation of the Tropical Dry Forest (TDF) in the region of Montes de María, and the consequent loss of biodiversity. The project aims to generate a dialogue with the community discussing possible solutions to the problem, such as the restoration of the TDF. This dialogue is inspired by the arts and science, working with young people from Carmen del Bolivar. The project was developed by Sinfonía Trópico with Fundación Gratitud in collaboration with the Humboldt Institute.

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The context

El Carmen de Bolivar is a municipality in the department of Bolivar, located in northern Colombia, with alarming levels of deforestation and biodiversity loss. Montes de María is the sub-region with the largest relicts of Tropical Dry Forest (TDF) in Colombia. Its geographic location offers an extraordinary biodiversity that has shaped a local network of cultural, social and economic relationships, which have been vital for its conservation; the Montes de María sub-region, with an area of 267,700 hectares, is a nucleus of TDF remnants with high connectivity and management potential.

In this territory, the TDF represents an important carbon reserve and provides critical ecosystem services, such as mitigation of extreme temperatures, erosion prevention, water regulation or the supply of forest products, and is also the basis for the historical construction of the local cultural identity that reflects a unique relationship of its people with the territory. This TDF area is adjacent to riparian forests, wetlands, coastal lagoons and mangroves. Threats are resource depletion, fragmentation and biodiversity loss. The TDF is one of the most fragile ecosystems in the entire tropics. The climatic conditions and the fertility of its soils have facilitated the development of diverse agricultural activities, an aspect that has strongly fragmented and degraded it. In Colombia, the TDF is not only threatened by agriculture, an important source of income for the local population, but also by the constant advance of cattle ranching and urban development, to the point that only less than 4% of its original cover remains.

Voices of the Forest was made in partnership with theFundación Gratitud, thanks to funding from the German government's IKI program.

Activities and festival

Voices of the Forest was developed with students from the INSTITUCION EDUCATIVA TECNICA ECOLÓGICA EMMA CECILIA ARNOLD (IETEECA), which has one of the most important relicts of BST. We also had the participation of dance students from Margui Osorio's school and the Lucho Bermúdez Music School.

Diversity mural. Photo by Mateo Pérez

The project was carried out in different phases:

‍Cultural Empathy Workshop (June 19 to 22, 2023). An emotional, social and environmental baseline was established to stimulate participants' sensitivity to the environment and their own cultural practices.

Scientific, artistic and cultural workshops (August 8 to 19, 2023).

Workshop / field trip in Tropical Dry Forest with Natalia Norden and Ana Belén Hurtado of the Humboldt Institute.

Field trip to TDF relict with Natalia Norden (Instituto Humboldt)

Music workshop with Camilo Martínez

Practicing outdoors. Photo by Mateo Pérez
Music ensamble at IETEECA. Photo by Mateo Pérez

Dance workshop with René Arriaga and Margui Osorio

Group of students with René Arriaga at Dance School Margui Osorio. Photo by Mateo Pérez

Margui Osorio's dance group at Voices of the Forest final event, IETEECA. Photo by Mateo Pérez

Jewelry workshop with Marcela Medina

Jewelry student with Marcela Medina working with found seeds and wire. Photo by Mateo Pérez

Making jewelry with PET and soda lids
Final exhibition showing the results of the jewelry workshop

Botanical Illustration workshop with Tatiana Arocha

Printing with a jelly plate. Photo Mateo Pérez
Frottages made leaves

Final exhibition showing the workshop results.

Performance workshop with Tatiana Saavedra (member of Colectivo Atempo)

Guardians of the Forest performance during the final show at IETEECA. Photo by Mateo Pérez
Masks made during the Performance workshop

Painting and muralism workshop with Diego Malaver (Member of Colectivo Atempo)

Lettering exercise, preparing the mural. Photo Mateo Pérez
Finishing one of the two murals made during Voces del Bosque. Photo by Mateo Pérez

Finishing touches

Podcast workshop with María McCausland and Daniel Castilla

Recoding interviews. Photo by Mateo Pérez

Sustainable lutherie workshop (September-October 2023).

This workshop was conducted by a group of young luthiers together with a group of older artisans in an intergenerational exchange of knowledge.

Final exhibition event (November 14 to 18, 2023).
A final show with dance, podcast, music, performance and an exhibition of the results of the jewelry and botanical illustration workshop.

Visitors at final exhibition. Photo by Mateo Pérez

Dance ensamble during final show. Photo by Mateo Pérez

Music ensamble during final show. Photp by Mateo Perez

The community at the final show. Photo by Mateo Pérez

Students in front of one of the murals. Photo by Mateo Pérez

Performers waiting to go on stage. Photo by Mateo Pérez

Podcast students with María McCausland. Photo by Mateo Pérez
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