In Memoriam: Dr. Enrique Forero, UNU Council Member

Enrique Forero was an esteemed botanist and leader in Colombian and international scientific and academic circles.

He dedicated his life to studying the Earth’s botanical resources and preserving the natural environment.

He held an undergraduate degree in botany from the National University of Colombia and a PhD from the City University of New York. He served in various roles at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, including Director of the Colombian National Herbarium, Head of the Botany Section, first Director of the Graduate Programme in Systematics, Director of the Institute of Natural Sciences and Dean of the Faculty of Sciences.

He also had a notable international career, serving as Director of Research at the Missouri Botanical Garden (USA), international consultant for the National Center for Genetic Resources (Cenargen; Brazil) and Director of the Institute of Systematic Botany of the New York Botanical Garden.

Dr. Forero was instrumental in founding the Colombian Herbaria Association and the Latin American Botanical Association and was a founding member of the Latin American Botanical Network Scientific Committee. He was also a fervent advocate for biodiversity conservation, serving on the Species Survival Commission of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the joint IUCN-World Wide Fund for Nature Plants Advisory Group.

Other leadership roles during his career included serving as President of the Colombian Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences and President of the Colombian College of Academies. He was a member of the Executive Board of the Inter-American Network of the Academies of Science, the International Science Council Freedom and Responsibility in Science Committee, and the Strategic Committee of the Science Panel for the Amazon.

Dr. Forero died on 5 September 2023 at the age of 80. He was a respected scientist and conservationist who significantly contributed to botany and biodiversity conservation.


“Sometimes we find people on our path who seem to belong to our history even if it is the first time we meet. With Dr. Forero we established an action plan on things that we hardly needed to discuss much because we agreed on everything without knowing it. He was a great ally of our Program. Then, when we met in Tokyo for the UNU Council meeting, he was also a willing guide in a very rich week of meetings with politicians, academics, diplomats, etc. Partly thanks to him, we ended that week with our own Statute fully approved. We at UNU BIOLAC, and personally, owe Enrique good advice, good times and shared visions. We will always cherish his memory.”

Dr. Gustavo A. Fermin M.
Programme Head of UNU-BIOLAC
United Nations University
Caracas, Venezuela

“I met Dr. Forero because he was an expert on the Connaraceae family, and I sent him some samples for identification.

Then, during my internship in 1991 at the Missouri Botanical Garden (USA), he was the Director of Research and treated me very well. We didn’t spend much time together, but he was always very kind, both in scientific meetings and at social gatherings.

Later, he helped me with my participation in the Latin American Botanical Congress. I would say that Forero was a great manager of South American botany. He helped everyone. More than Colombian, he was a good Latin American.”

Dr. Nelson Ramírez
Laboratory of Reproductive Biology of Higher Plants
Tropical Botany Center
Institute of Experimental Biology
Faculty of Sciences
Universidad Central de Venezuela

Dr. Forero

“I met Dr. Forero via email in 2005 when he responded to a request from the Fundación Instituto Botánico Dr. Tobías Lasser, Jardín Botánico de Caracas, during the preparation of the treatments for the families of vascular plants for the work Nuevo Catálogo de la Flora Vascular de Venezuela (2008). He reviewed the list of species of Connaraceae.

Later, I had the opportunity to meet him in person in Medellín in 2007 during the IV Colombian Botanical Congress. I participated in the pre-congress course “Taxonomía de Leguminosas Neotropicales” at the Instituto de Biología de la Universidad de Antioquia, which he and his three graduate students taught at the time.

At the end of the course, we all went to see the Metrocable. This opportunity allowed us to enjoy the view of the city while sharing botanical experiences and very pleasant moments.

Dr. Forero was an exemplary teacher, generous with his knowledge and helpful in identifying botanical samples. He was a complete professional, very kind and enthusiastic botanical researcher.”

Dra. Omaira Hokche
Laboratory of Plant Biosystematics and Cytogenetics
Institute of Experimental Biology
Faculty of Sciences
Universidad Central de Venezuela