Case Study

Zoonatura Bogotá, Colombia

SME Name
SME Size
Micro (1-9 employees)
Luis Silva Herrera
Developed by Dr. Jose Di Bella Mtro. Jorge Enrique Gomez Florido Universidad Católica de Manizales


Find a niche market for potential sustainability. The urgency to adopt sustainability is driven and informed partially by the different global frameworks and the government’s priorities, guiding companies seeking to address various problems associated with unsustainable development. However, sustainability is implemented, adapted, and built at the local level. This example of a bio-commerce company illustrates how a small local operation that derives ecosystem services from a microenvironment can turn a small initiative into a sustainable business venture by converting niche natural resources for the international tourism market.


Zoonatura SAS, is a company created in November 2004, with administration in Bogotá and operations in the Municipality of Otanche (Boyacá), whose mission is the sustainable use of natural resources through the breeding of insects, especially butterflies and beetles, by using procedures that allow the conservation and restoration of ecosystems for commercial purposes. This is a productive alternative for the sustainable management of the local forest, generating products for demand in the national and international market.

The company is investigating the breeding of various species of butterflies and beetles, complying with the regulations of environmental entities. Zoonatura is in the municipality of Otanche (Boyacá) and works with 25 low income families from the community who have found an alternative source of income from growing illicit crops in a vulnerable rural area. By doing so, the company is contributing to the environmental quality and social welfare of the community.

Zoonatura has a marketing license in Bogotá for more than 450 species of butterflies and other insects. This license, granted by the District Secretary of the Environment, has allowed Zoonatura to export dried butterflies to several countries in Europe, China, Taiwan, Iran and the United States for over ten years.

Sustainability Story

The activity of butterfly breeding is highly recommended for the restoration of forests. Each species of butterfly feeds on plants considered to be bothersome, often referred to as “weeds”, which are eliminated by farmers and ranchers. In turn, the butterfly population decreases considerably. In breeding, more than 40 species of said plants must be cultivated in large quantities to feed the larvae. Ten percent of the breeding production is released to contribute to the restoration of the ecosystem. From social and economic points of view, families have an opportunity to increase their income by receiving payment for the breeding of butterflies, being so far the only local project with social, economic, and ecological viability that has been brought to the municipality. After ten years of operations, it has proven to be effective.

In Bogotá, the paintings are made with wooden frames from a handmade process, since the manipulation of the dissected butterflies and insects requires a delicate manual treatment to prevent them from splitting. They are then arranged in the double glass or acrylic paintings with a layout that requires aesthetic and manual skills.

The wood of the frames is imported from Italy, since unfortunately, in Colombia they do not produce the necessary quality for the good presentation of the product. The export and commercialization potential are very broad and directly proportional to the richness of biodiversity, but without a policy and regulation that facilitates and encourages the sustainable management of this activity, its development has stalled.

Zoonatura Practices

Ecosystem servicesEcosystem Management with Community
Practice sustainable forest and species management.Engage in the local community through employing individuals from the community and educating the community on sustainable practices.

Pathway Map

Pathway maps represent the sequence businesses followed to implement successful sustainability practices and identify emerging ones within firms. The pathways also reveal the diversity of actors that begin to form sustainability enabling ecosystems for businesses to adopt, deploy or test sustainability practices.
Ecosystem Management with Community
View the Pathway Map

Enabling Factors for Practices

Internal to the organizationExternal to the organization
Research processes: A continuous research process is carried out to enter new species into production. The link in the association of producers and marketers of insects: This partnership was created in order to manage the sectors to be able to better dynamize the policy created for the breeding and commercialization of animals in captivity.
The linking of the community: Active involvement and participation of families in the production processes, the communities have been linked through the satellite incubators that have been set up in the territory.

Arresting Factors for Practices

Internal to the organizationExternal to the organization
Lack of policy support from the entities in charge of the environmental issue. Consequently, for the environmental sectors, the breeding and commercialization of species is difficult to manage. There are many obstacles and controls that may be altered to be able to carry out this trade in a clearer, more effective manner.Current regulations in Colombia greatly limit the issue of production and marketing.
Lack of accompaniment by trade offices and no technical support, or policy to incentivize this type of business.
Lack of articulation by the environment and trade sectors to develop the business and promote the sustainable management of local forest.

Lessons for Disaster Risk Reduction

The issue of disaster risk must be considered. In rainy seasons, delays occur due to the lack of transit routes as landslides block roads. Landslide are more frequent with increased rains, along with other risks that materialize with higher precipitation. As such, the problem of disaster risk happens, in most cases, when it is difficult to transport the product for marketing due to the damage to the roads.  However, like many other small companies, the Covid-19 pandemic halted marketing efforts as transportation was widely unavailable to collect the product. 

The small company sits at the intersection of many local farming operations and has important insights and a potential role in transferring information across the production sites. The organizations seeking to work on DRR can focus on enrolling small enterprises like this and provide incentives to engage in promoting effective disaster risk reduction practices.


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