Paramos not only hold spectacular biological diversity, they also are intimately intertwined with the fate of Colombians as they hold water sources that feed Colombia's main cities and play a crucial role in the region's water regulation.
Small Creek in Colombia Freshwater flows through a small creek in the Andes region of Colombia, South America. © Diego Ochoa

Stories in Colombia


Water Security. Investing in nature to secure fresh water for Colombia’s most at-risk cities.

As Colombia’s population grows and becomes increasingly urbanized, more water is consumed every day. Rampant agricultural fields and cattle ranching threaten the pristine forests, paramos and rivers that naturally clean and filter the water of millions of Colombians.

Instead of paying for expensive industrial filtration, by financing upstream landowners to use sustainable farming practices and conserve/restore natural areas, The Nature Conservancy protects water at the source, guaranteeing cleaner water once it reaches users

To date, TNC has helped safeguard water sources for 16 million people with Water Funds in Bogota, Valle del Cauca, Medellin, Cali, Cucuta, Cartagena, Santa Marta and Cienaga by:

  • Protecting and restoring critically important habitats that clean water at its source
    • We safeguard ecologically sensitive places and guide development towards sites with the least impact on nature.
      • Paramos, Andean high altitude wetlands, not only hold spectacular biodiversity, they are also intimately intertwined with the fate of Colombians as they hold water sources that feed Colombia's main cities and play a crucial role in the region’s water regulation. Learn more about our work protecting Colombia’s paramos.
    • We also rejuvenate degraded landscapes, restore forests or plant new ones, to harness the many services nature provides (flood control, sediment and nutrients retention, water filtration, pollination, clean air, climate change resilience).
  • Transforming how we use nature to sustain ourselves
    • Through science and partnerships, we encourage innovative practices and policies like we have with our Latin America Water Funds Partnership.
    • We partner with governments, local communities, indigenous peoples and industries, providing them with scientific tools to be the best stewards of their own resources.
  • Inspiring collective action
    • We are galvanizing leaders (from policymakers and communities to lawmakers and business leaders), ensuring the adoption of a sustainable rural development model that can be broadly applied.
Frailejon plant Above, what looks like a desert, but is really full of water? The unique, paramo ecosystem! A virtual sponge high on the mountainsides, this Andean landscape provides crucial water delivery to big cities below like Bogota. © Diego Ochoa

In Chingaza National Park, the paramo landscape is not only home to spectacular natural diversity (condors, endangered spectacled bears and golden eagles), it also helps make dry seasons less extreme given its capacity to store water during rainy seasons, and slowly release it during the dry season.

We are devising innovative strategies to help improve the social and economic conditions of upstream communities that surround Colombia's rivers, lakes and paramos to better protect water at its source.

Bogota, Colombia Above, Bogota stretches out below the beautiful mountains that surround the city and naturally filter its water. © Juan Melgarejo

First across Latin America, and now around the world, Water Funds are bringing together community groups, farmer, governments, businesses of all sizes and fellow environmentalists to scale up on-the-ground conservation with multiple benefits—water security, biodiversity protection, economic development and climate change adaptation.

Uniting all sectors, we are making water cleaner and less expensive for millions of Colombians.