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Evaluating Conservation Projects in the Amazon...and yet another book!

(28 November 2014)

From October to December 2014, I am leading a 7 person team to evaluate a broad programme on conservation of biodiversity in the Amazon region of  Colombia, Perú and Ecuador. This programme, financed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), supports over 25 organizations that help indigenous communities, farmer organizations, local governments, small companies and producer groups to conserve forests, make wise use of forest products and engage in sustainable production. Thanks to this work, I am able to visit a number of wonderful pristine areas in the Peruvian and Ecuadorian Amazon and meet great people, committed to the survival of the nature in this region of key importance. However, I could also witness the horrible effects of illegal mining, the negative impact of ill-planned infrastructure and social consequences of uncontrolled urbanization.

This kind of assignments really show both sides of the medal: the impressive beauty and the enormous threats to the Amazon integrity. These two sides have been well described in a recent book that we published with WWF: State of the Amazon: Ecological Representation in Protected Areas and Indigenous Territories

A new book by my hand, on páramo and climate change

(5 September 2014)

Recently, I had the priviledge to coordinate a project (managed by IUCN) to elaborate a state-of-knowledge report on the páramo ecosystem, especially focusing on climate change. This study, executed in collaboration with partners from Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, was recently published. The online version of this book can be downloaded here. It includes a quite complete update of all ecological knowledge on páramo, its conservation and management and the actual impact of climate change on the ecosystem. It also includes a long list of publications and analyzed the progress in research in the Andean countries and elsewhere. I hope you will enjoy this!

(more on the Páramo Communities project here)

Supporting initiatives to conserve páramo and water resources in Colombia

(24 june 2014)

During this year I have been involved with various activities to support several interesting initiatives for the conservation of the páramos and water resources, with an emphasis on Colombia. In the first place, I continued to be part of the Scientific Committee for the delimitation of the páramo at the national level. This is a process with important implications for the environmental and economic policy of Colombia. I have written about this initiative before (see below; News 4 September 2013) but during this year, the scale was increased and included wetlands delimitation

I also participated in the formulation of a regional project, in Colombia, Peru and Ecuador, for the conservation of the páramo, focusing on institutional coordination, supporting communities and generation and exchange of knowledge. This project, probably starting in January 2015, will be executed by the von Humboldt Institute, several CAR and organizations such as IUCN and WWF and financed by the European Union. This work took me to many places in the three countries and I re-encountered with many friends who are passionate about the preservation of páramo.

Finally, in these days I am traveling frequently to the beautiful city of Manizales, to support a very interesting process for the management of the Chinchina watershed. This basin starts at the Cumanday volcano (Nevado del Ruiz), in los Nevados National Park, and covers Andean forests, livestock areas, villages, the coffee region, cities and tropical areas near the Cauca River. Local institutions have reached agreement to promote joint action ("Pactos para la cuenca Chinchiná") in an innovative way: first, inter-institutional commitment is achieved before defining the specific action and funding. Now that there is a strong commitment, actions are various and well coordinated. I am passionate about working in this area, because it is a positive process, with enthusiastic people and the Nevados Park is my "cradle" in South America: this is where I did my early work 25 years ago.