Santiago Madriñan de la Torre, Executive Director, CECOCES
Colombia is a large and deeply biodiverse country, with ecosystems spread across several biomes. This includes the Amazon rainforest, 10% of which sits within Colombia’s boarders. As the historic peace process opens up previously cut-off areas of the country to exploration and development, the need to understand the value of leaving nature standing is more important than ever.
The ecosystem services provided by Colombia’s natural capital are not only crucial for local communities, but have international significance. Colombia’s forests sequester vast quantities of carbon produced by the global economy, and maintain the movement of water in the atmosphere, generating major precipitation patterns that quench the thirst of crops in agricultural areas in countries as diverse as China, India and the U.S. Midwest.
For example, in the Paramo de Sumapaz, a high-altitude wetland overlooking the capital Bogota, soldiers from Colombia’s First High Mountain Battalion have been tasked with the cultivation, protection and restoration of the regions frailejones. The frailejon is a perennial subshrub, a keystone species that provides freshwater to as much as 70% of the Colombian population.
How? Frailejones trap tremendous amounts of the wetlands perpetual fog on its surface. When its leaves become too heavy, it deposits freshwater directly into the soil which flows downstream into the lakes and rivers that act as reservoirs for drinking water and hydroelectricity across the country. Recognising this critical dependence has enabled the government to take action to safeguard freshwater availability by protecting, enhancing and restoring the natural world.
Scaling natural capital approaches in Colombia will provide business and governments information they need in order to understand these relationships, and make win-win-win decisions for nature, society and the economy. CECODES is supporting the natural capital conversation in Colombia through a Natural Capital Regional Platform; our objective is to partner with businesses, especially financial institutions, to grow commitment for integrating natural capital considerations into reporting, accounting, and decision-making.
Read the full report here.