Sustainable Montane Páramo Ecotourism Colombia
Sierra Nevada de El Cocuy, Güicán y Chita, Department of Boyacá, Colombia
The SMEC Programme is a conservation and sustainable rural development programme for the Páramo region of the Department of Boyacá, Colombia. The programme is based on a partnership agreement between a farmer households, large land oewners, a team of local experts and ENVIRONOMICA.
The SMEC Programme aims to create a household-based developmental model able to integrate short, medium and long-term sustainable commercial activities with reforestation, regeneration of the native Páramo vegetation, and water conservation. Activities range 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 montane native ecosystems alongside water resources,
- to promote a set of profitable household-based commercial activities in a sustainable manner,
- to support education and training on environmental conservation and sustainable development.
The SMEC Programme is based on a preliminary need assessment run in March 2015 by our team and on a baseline study assessed between September and December 2015. This Sierra Nevada is home to Colombia’s largest glaciers and its high-altitude forest are tomorrow’s fresh water reserve. Yet its inhabitants are thriving at the expense of nature through uncontrolled cattle ranching, land clearing, unsustainable agriculture and irresponsible eco-tourism. The project will tackle the following issues with respective strategic actions:
Mod 1 – Optimization and reforestation
The first module tackles land use and degradation: the farm will be organized according to biological tests and strategic actions to counter land degradation, erosion and water contamination. The tree nursery will supply a mixture of native tree species to protect critical eco-spots throughout the farm.
Mod 2 – Nursing and intercropping
Module 2 address the lack of sustainable income generating activities through the tree nursery and the science of agro-ecology. Local traditional knowledge on medicinal plants will be channeled onto the production of organic, homeopathic remedies to be packaged and sold locally. Farmland will be optimized to feed household and visitors through intercropping and organic farming techniques.
Mod 3 – Participative tourism
Responsible tourism will be the focus of this third module: by linking the tourism offer with conservation of ecosystems and local traditional knowledge, the module will create an incentive for the household and visitors to jointly act against the destruction of the Páramo environment. Tourists will directly engage in planting trees and learn from locals natural healing techniques.
Mod 4 – Handover and replication
Module 4 means the SMEC Programme has been fully implemented by the first household and is now proof of concept: time to handover the activities to the farm owners and replicate the project throughout the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy, Güicán y Chita.
Sendero is an association of professionals in the fields of water management and agronomy based in the Department of Boayacá, Colombia. Their multifaceted experience with high and low altitude land and water management systems, along with their regional focus make them a strong, strategic partner for the success of the SMEC Project.
F.P.L. – Fundación Pez León
FPL (Lion Fish Organization) is a Colombian Non-Governmental Organization based in Santa Marta, Department of Magdalena. FPL focuses on the conservation of marine, coastal and forest ecosystems.
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.