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Colombia Declares New Natural Park Protecting Water for 116,000 People


New Natural Park in Colombia secures clean water for more than 116,000 people

Prior to the 2016 Peace Accord, it was considered too dangerous to go into certain remote regions of Colombia and establish protected areas. In recent years, the country has made significant strides in and a serious commitment to advancing peace, growing its economy, and conserving its biodiversity. However, sourcing clean water for the large population remains a problem, as many natural sources of water have been contaminated from illegal and legal mining activities, industrial waste, cattle ranching and agricultural activities.

According to WaterAid Global, in rural areas, one in four Colombians do not have clean water to drink.

With Nature and Culture’s support, one of Colombia’s regional environmental authorities, Corponariño, recently established Páramo Ovejas Tauso Regional Natural Park, protecting 37,000 acres of high elevation páramos and cloud forests and securing clean water for more than 116,000 people!

Lake in Ovejas Páramo Ovejas Tauso Natural Park.

Located in southern Colombia, Páramo Ovejas Tauso Regional Natural Park protects the main sources of water for the municipalities of Pasto, Tangua and Funes, including 11 lakes and the origins of several major rivers. The area holds one of the main populations of the frailejon plant (Espeletia pycnophilla), an iconic and endemic species from southern Colombia and northern Ecuador. Frailejones and the Colombian páramos are essential for the Colombian population, playing a major role in the water cycle. The plants’ hairy leaves and thick spongy trunks trap water vapor from the air and release it through their roots. About 85% of the fresh water in Colombia is processed by plants like the frailejon and released into lakes, rivers and streams.

The endemic frailejon plants in Ovejas Tausó.

In addition to securing clean water, Páramo Ovejas Tauso Regional Natural Park also protects hundreds of plants and animal species. The reserve establishes critical habitat connectivity that is essential for the long-term survival of far-ranging and charismatic species such as the threatened spectacled bear and the near-threatened mountain toucan.

Corponariño established Páramo Ovejas Tauso Regional Natural Park last month with Nature and Culture’s financial and technical support. The reserve is part of a large corridor extending from the southern Andes of Colombia to northern Ecuador. Thanks to our dedicated donors, we are continuing to work with Corponariño to establish multiple protected areas along this corridor, including three protected areas currently in the declaration process.

Regional Conservation System (Páramo Ovejas Tauso Regional Natural Park outlined in red).

Many thanks to all who were involved in this area’s creation! We couldn’t do this without you.

Páramo Ovejas Tauso Regional Natural Park would not have been possible without the generous financial support of the Humboldt Institute.

Nature and Culture’s conservationist Felipe Serrano, Corponariño staff, local farmer, and Humboldt Institute staff together in the park. 

Click here to learn more about our work in Colombia.