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Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta Biosphere Reserve, Colombia

The Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta Biosphere Reserve is located in the northern part of Colombia, not far from the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Biosphere Reserve. Ciénaga Grande is one of the largest coastal wetlands in Latin America, including both coral reefs and mangroves.

Designation date: 1979


Regional network:  Red de Comités y Reservas de Biosfera de Iberoamérica y el Caribe (IberoMAB) 

Ecosystem-based network:




    Surface : 493,150 ha

    • Core area(s): 83,000 ha (marine: 29,000 ha)
    • Buffer zone(s):  140,700 ha (marine: 31,200 ha)
    • Transition zone(s): 269,450 ha (marine: 44,550 ha)

    Location: 74°30’00’’W; 10°44’00’’N

    Administrative Authorities

    Maria Danies and Luz Elvira Angarita
    Corpamag/ Directora Territorial Caribe PNN

    Tel.: (57-5) 4213089 and (57-5) 423-0752

    Email: and

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    Ecological Characteristics

    The Biosphere Reserve comprises Isla de Salamanca National Park, and the Flora and Fauna Sanctuary of the Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta. The site lies at the interface between fresh and brackish water, shallow bays and deeper coastal waters thus creating a complex of habitats supporting a high diversity of flora and fauna. The alluvial prairies of recent origin inside the primitive delta of the Magdalena River include mud banks type formations, lagoons and channels with large mangrove associations, saw grass marshes and flooded and non-flooded forests.




    Socio-Economic Characteristics

    Some 200 people live in the Ciénaga Biosphere Reserve, engaged in fisheries, cattle grazing, banana and African palm plantations, and horticulture. These practices had affected some hydrologic ecosystems with agrochemicals, and the discharge of toxic substances. Around 1950 the road Ciénaga-Barranquilla was constructed, affecting the interface between the Magdalena River and the mangroves and marshes complexes, causing serious variations in the big wetland ecosystem. The hyper-salinization of lagoons and soils provoked the extinction of large mangrove forests and marshes.




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    Last updated: June 2019