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Colombia: International Day for Biological Diversity

Páramo Santurbán

On International Day for Biological Diversity, Christian Aid wants to highlight how biodiversity is being threatened by mining in countries like Colombia.

Colombia is the second most biologically diverse country on Earth, home to about 10% of the world's species.

It is the first most biodiverse country in terms of the number of species of plants, mammals and reptiles per square kilometre.

Mining concessions

But the last few governments' openness to foreign investment in mining and agricultural businesses has put this biodiversity at risk.

Many of the mining concessions given by the government have been authorised in areas of biodiversity, such as natural parks, forestry reserves and páramos.

The páramo is a treeless alpine plateau of the Andes and tropical South America. Only five countries in the world have páramos. Colombia has half of all the páramos found in the world.

How to kill biodiversity

One of these páramos is the Páramo Santurbán, in Santander, in the north east of the country.

The inhabitants of the city of Bucaramanga depend on the water produced at the páramo, which is potentially at risk of contamination by mining activities.

Some companies continue to drill tunnels in Santurbán, recently declared a natural park.

This páramo is key because it is an important water source that feeds the streams and rivers providing water for 2.5 million people in the nearby city. Santurbán also has emblematic species of plants and animals endemic to this area.

Mining in such an area would produce millions of tonnes of solid and liquid waste.

If mining was done underground, the tunnels needed for that process would lower the water levels, drying out lakes and streams and creating acid rain that would kill all vegetation.

To view the gallery full-screen, simply press play and then select the enlarge button on the bottom right. To show the captions, select 'Show info' on the top right.

Marches mobilise protesters

In response to the threat posed by mining in the Páramo Santurbán, several peaceful marches have been organised by the committee for the defence of water and the Páramo of Santurbán.

Our partners, Corambiente and CCALCP, are part of this committee, which aims to raise awareness of the issue and put pressure on the government so that mining activities in the area come to a halt.

Several marches have already taken place and are mobilising a wide range of people, from academics, students and environmentalists to members of political parties and trade unions.

They are all calling for the suspension of mining in the páramo, defence of water sources and the suspension of open and underground mining in Santander.

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