Chingaza National Park
Chingaza National Park Chingaza National Park ©: Timothy Boucher/TNC

Stories in Colombia

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 (TNC) 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.

       

Chingaza National Park, Cundinamarca Colombia. Located in the Eastern Cordillera of the Andes. 99% of the park area is located in the Orinoco River basin and 1% in the Magdalena River basin where the Bogota river drain. The Magdalena River Basin is the social, environmental, and economic heart of Colombia. But rapid growth is causing major threats to the environmental health of the basin. The Colombian Government and the Conservancy are working on multi-year, multi-purpose effort to solve the dilemmas like pollution, flooding, climate change, water scarcity, and declining fisheries that threaten the basin today.
Frailejon Ecosystem Above, what looks like a desert, but is really full of water? The unique, paramo ecosystem! A virtual sponge high on the mountainsides. © Juan Arredondo

In the Chingaza National Park, the paramos landscape is not only home to spectacular natural diversity (condors, endangered spectacled bears and golden eagles), but it also supplies most of the water that flows through Bogota, Colombia´s capital. Chingaza and its watersheds, as well as the two other systems that supply the city, are under pressure from human activity such as change in land use, deforestation and agriculture, and climate change. They need financial resources for their conservation and restoration.  

Innovative strategies such as Water Funds ensure that water users compensate upstream communities for protecting forests, paramos and other lands that safeguard water that supplies cities. Water Funds not only protect water at its source, they also allow for improved water governance and concerted efforts by the various agencies that oversee water security.

 

. A wide view of Bogota, Colombia. The cost of water treatment in this city has grown to more than 7 million. The Conservancy is encouraging private companies sush as Bavaria brewery and public entities such as Bogota's water facility company to invest in self-sustaining water funds to protect river basins and ultimately the city's water supply
Bogotá, Colombia Bogota stretches out below the beautiful mountains that surround the city and naturally filter its water. © Carlos Villalón

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.