Sustainable Montane Páramo Ecotourism Colombia
Department of Boyacá, Colombia
The SMEC Programme is a bioremediation, conservation and sustainable rural development programme for the high altitude Páramo of the Department of Boyacá, in Colombia. The programme is based on partnerships between land owners and local authorities, local communities and ENVIRONOMICA.
The SMEC Programme aims to create conservation models for the Páramo and Andean forests: participative environmental restoration processes, cooperative small-scale agroforestry, protection and enhancement of the Páramo key role in water production. SMEC Projects will involve local and foreign users in a range of activities, including from responsible ecotourism, climate change monitoring and environmental education, to organic farming and sustainable NTFP processing.
The primary goals of the SMEC Programme are:
- to restore and conserve the Páramo and Andean native forest ecosystems and water resources,
- to create community-based cooperatives (CBOs) aimed at enhancing sustainable small-scale farming and NTFPs harvesting,
- to educate visitors and locals alike on agro-ecology and environmental conservation.
The SMEC Programme is based on a need assessments and baseline studies assessed between March 2015 and December 2016 in the region. The department of Boyacá hosts some of the largest national glaciers, which make the oriental Andes forests tomorrow’s fresh water reserve. Yet the mining industry is having a tremendous impact on these ecosystems and the local inhabitants are often thriving at the expense of nature through uncontrolled cattle ranching, land clearing, unsustainable agriculture and irresponsible eco-tourism.
Mod 1 – Optimization and reforestation
The first module tackles land use and degradation: each farm joining the programme will be assessed and organized according to biological tests and strategic actions to counter land degradation, soil erosion and water contamination. A tree nursery will supply a mixture of native tree species to protect critical biodiversity spots throughout the farm.
Mod 2 – Nursing and inter-cropping
Module 2 addresses the lack of sustainable income by the farming community. At the core of the SMEC strategy lies a tree nursery growing native forest species and the science of agro-ecology. Local traditional knowledge on medicinal and property-rich plants will fuel the production of organic products than can be packaged and sold locally to a conscious tourism industry.
Mod 3 – Participative tourism
Responsible tourism will be the focus of the third module: by linking the tourism offer with conservation of ecosystems and local traditional knowledge, the module will create an incentive for industry, households and visitors to jointly act against the destruction of the Páramo ecosystems. Tourists will directly engage in planting trees and learn from locals natural living and healing techniques.
Mod 4 – Handover and replication
Module 4 means a SMEC Project has been fully implemented and is now proof of concept: time to handover the activities to the farm owners and replicate with other projects throughout the Department of Boyacá.
To further the SMEC Project, ENVIRONOMICA sends out a call to prospect partners and donors. Please contact us if you wish to take part on the project.