Living in the surroundings of the Chingaza Paramo

By Patrimonio Natural*

She lives with her daughter Cristina and her grandson Jaime in a brick hut with zinc roofing, located in an area of 297 acres, which is financially supported by the income obtained from selling cheese. However, looking for new sources of income, a couple of years ago Ana Cecilia and her family decided to start a business in breeding trout by harnessing the streams that flow through their land.    
 
Ana Cecilia tells us that two years ago, Elmer Cortés, her “chinito” how she calls him lovingly, came to her land, offering them to work with “Agua Somos”, the Bogota Water Fund, to protect the water sources that supply approximately 2,500 families, through the improvement of their productive activities and the management of their land.
 
The technical and financial Alliance “Agua Somos” is leading different conservation projects in the upstream watersheds that supply water to Bogota and its surroundings, in order to avoid 2 million tons of sediments, equivalent to 800 soccer courts, get to the water sources.

One of these projects is Ana Cecilia’s. She and her family, signed a conservation agreement that goes until 2020, and, where they have committed to protect 198 acres of their land, and, as an incentive to this process, the technical team of “Agua Somos” is training them to develop a farming production aligned with the conservation of paramos, forests and rivers, key for securing the water supply for Bogota and 33 municipalities.  

As an incentive to the conservation, Ana Cecilia and her family received the required materials to isolate the forest areas and the riverside, the wood to build a new house and a barn, and the hoses that they use to transport the water from the streams into the pools, where they breed the trout.

According to Liliana Martinez, Technical Secretary of the Water Fund, “with the support of Coca Cola and Femsa, in-kind incentives have been delivered to the communities that agree to change their behavior towards the natural resources, changing land use in the areas, that are important for the protection of water resources”.

In Mrs. Ana Cecilia’s case, the next steps to take after preventing her cattle from getting into the forest and the rivers, are to improve the cattle ranching process, through the implementation of a Silvopastoral System and promoting Ecotourism linked to the sighting of the Andean bear.

As well as Mrs. Cecilia, nine other families are engaging actively in the replenishment project, reaching a total of 2795 acres under conservation agreements. According to Jaime Eduardo Avellaneda, Industrial Engineer and Mrs. Cecilia’s grandson, “it is the first time in history that an opportunity like this has been presented to us, and to the entire community“.

Living in the surroundings of the Chingaza Paramo, was never easy for Mrs. Ana Cecilia, but now, with the help of “Agua Somos” and her “chinito”, she and her family feel blessed to have found people that not only want them to stay where they have always lived, but also care about their welfare and the protection of the Ecosystems which are located in their land.

“Agua Somos”, was created in 2009 by The Nature Conservancy, Bavaria Foundation, Natural Heritage and National Parks Service as a “Technical and financial alliance that works for the conservation of paramos, forests and rivers that provide water resources for Bogota and 33 municipalities, securing the welfare of rural and urban communities”.

To date, this alliance has leveraged approximately USD $1.2 million (COP $3,500 million), has protected 3,707 acres of areas surrounding the water springs and they have signed 50 conservation agreements with the communities that live in the areas of the Chingaza and Sumapaz Natural National Parks and the upstream watershed of the Bogota river.

*Patrimonio Natural is a colombian fund which strategically invests in the conservation of natural areas in that country.
This article was originally published in Medium: https://medium.com/@FondoPatrimonio/vivir-en-las-proximidades-del-p%C3%A1ramo-de-chingaza-14df7b83699e#.y5l226xuo

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