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Informative bulletin. No. 32 - Year 2020

OLIVIO, World Hero of Critically Endangered Ecosystems

In the framework of the World Conservation Congress 2021, to be held in Marseille, France, Olivio Bisbicús, founder of the Nature Reserve Inkal Awá La Nutria “Piman”, will be honoured for defending his ancestral territory of the Tropical Andes in Colombia. In the framework of the World Conservation Congress 2021, to be held in Marseille, France, Olivio Bisbicús, founder of the Nature Reserve Inkal Awá La Nutria “Piman”, will be honoured for defending his ancestral territory of the Tropical Andes in Colombia.

 

Olivio in La Nutria creek
Olivio in La Nutria creek Photo: Wilmer Bisbicus

 

According to his own words: “We dream that our territory will be respected, that it receives greater attention from local, departmental, national and international governmental institutions. That it is environmentally sustainable, contributing to the improvements of living conditions of the Awá communities and that the environmental governance will be led by environmental authorities that are native to the territory”.

“Olivio is a long-time defender of conservation and protection of the territory of the Awá peoples. He represents the struggle of indigenous peoples for defending their land and its biodiversity against incredible pressures”.

Michelle Zador, Donation Director of the CEPF

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NEW RECOGNITION FOR SERRANIAGUA

Promoting the social and ecological connectivity in Colombia

The 20th Anniversary of the IUCN NL land acquisition fund for conservation is celebrated with a tribute to the Local Heroes of Conservation of more than 100 organizations and includes a special mention of the Serraniagua Corporation and its leader, César A. Franco Laverde. During the celebration, a new publication will also be launched to “highlight the passion and the examples that make a difference by achieving that efforts are being implemented on the frontline of conservation”, according to Marc Honeslag, Director of the Programme.
The publication can be downloaded here: iucn.nl/twodecades

 

IUCN Netherlands logo IUCN world conservation congress

 

Facing the climate, health, and social crisis …

How have we prepared ourselves?

Our community-based environmental organisations have always been attempting to harmonise the relationship with nature and to preserve landscapes, water basins, family agriculture, healthy food, as well as local, native and millennial cultures.
The endeavours since our foundation 25 years ago have allowed us to better confront the El Niño phenomenon, to guarantee the conservation of water sources that supply the communities, and to better prepare our productive systems against climatic influences.

Community radio programme
Community radio programme

What do we do now to confront the pandemic?

  • Maintain social responsibility, social distancing, and self-control while guaranteeing the protection of the environment and communities as well as their productive systems.
  • Generate processes of community communications for a greater environmental consciousness, highlighting the specials of the “Mountain Radio” in times of crisis.
  • Consolidate the local/regional systems of protected areas, natural reserves of civil society, and agroecological farms.
  • Integrate a cultural focus on all our conservations and production efforts, with a deep sense for life and nature.
  • Promote solidarity sessions with the most vulnerable families. On this occasion, we wish to thank the “Solidarity Programmes Ita-Cho” through the National Network for Democracy and Peace for their support.

What comes next?

If governments, large corporations, and monopolies do not change their course, we will be faced with greater emergencies. This is why we already work to:

  • Strengthen the organisational processes of the grassroots, and supporting the networks and alliances for the conservation and sustainability of communities.
  • Pressure governments at different levels, organisations, and communities to declare a climate emergency, and promote the productive and energetic transition for a better preparedness of citizens of this planet through a change of lifestyle and development that has left such a negative footprint on the lives of all species—including ourselves, while sadly also impacting landscapes and ecosystems.
  • Declare Nature as an object of rights with a better capacity to bring to justice the crimes against nature, while protecting the wonderful places such as the San Juan river basin, the Atrato river as well as the Amazon.

 

Community-based monitoring in the Serranía de los Paraguas

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The rich biodiversity in the cloud forests of the Serrania de los Paraguas never seizes to surprise: this year, the monitoring of forest fauna with trap cameras in the Community Nature Reserve Cerro El Inglés has allowed us to register a diversity of birds and terrestrial mammals.  This includes the emblematic Andean Bear (Tremarctos ornatus), who appeared in all monitored paths and even played with one of the cameras—a moment that got captured on video. We also observed the Mountain Paca (Cuniculus taczanowskii), a mammal species that had not been reported in the Natural Reserve prior to that date and whose existence—thanks to the photographic register—can now be confirmed. 

 

 

The forest fauna is essential to the ecosystem cycle as it maintains a natural equilibrium in the forests.  The presence of medium and large mammals are indicators for the effectiveness of the connectivity between forests, which are guaranteed by the nature reserves and the strategic conservation areas. The cloud forests are part of the fragile Andean ecosystems, which not only provide a habitat for species, but also green services for communities, such as water and pollination, which is crucial for agriculture. 

The local environmental group “The Crested Eagles”, comprising young people interested in the observation of birds in the Serranía de los Paraguas as well as family agriculture as an educative space, are part of this monitoring initiative of the forest fauna. The birds have motivated them to go on walks for their identification, which led them to discover many different species, their behaviour and their habitats. 

The purpose of this environmental group is to share and replicate this knowledge with rural and urban educational institutions. It should inspire children and adolescents, given that there is a lack of generational renewal. The contribution and participation of the young in the territorial dynamics, from the knowledge to obtained experiences from these small initiatives, is ever more important.  The community-based environmental organisation Serraniagua continues to facilitate the settings for social transformation through local capacity-building in the ecoregion Serranía de los Paraguas. 

The Crested Eagles, environmental group

 

COMMUNITY CONSERVATION: Guaranteeing the life of our threatened landscapes, species, and cultures

 

Infography community conservation

 

The EVOKED SENSES of family agriculture THANKS TO BEEKEEPING

 

 

On this occasion, Serraniagua and its associates pay tribute to beekeeping in all its forms since it advances the philosophy of family agriculture at the social, environmental, territorial and ecosystem level.
The love for bees is the perfect example for the balance found between biodiversity and agricultural activities.

The Rua family

The colourful world of insects

Take some time to contemplate your garden or your coffee plantation and just observe, listen, and note. In a pesticide-free environment starts the colourful dance of insects and pollinators, or as they are technically called “biological controllers”. Insects are our best allies in the field as well as in life in general. Their diversity is the essence of crops, fruits and of course of all our food. As Don Gerardo Salazar from the Santa Rita district rightly says:

“having pollination means having fruits […] If we kill the bees, who is going to pollinate? What fruits will we have? It’s quite simple: we will die of starvation”.

The beautiful complexity of ecosystems as home

Insects, fungi, human beings and, in particular, the variety of bees require a richness and diversity of plants and aromas in the countryside. Imagine for a moment a world without flowers, without smells during flowering. The colours of the countryside, the chaotic and beautiful mix of flowers and trees all play a fundamental role for our crops. Considering the allelopathy* as therapy, this association of crops and flowers allow for a perfect connection between the elements. Each one occupies a role that balances us. Nature, as much as humanity, is part of a diverse context where all particularities become one whole. The farm and the forest represent the landscape of ecosystems that allow life to be life. 

 

Honey: an example of diversity in aromas and colours

It is difficult to grasp that the spectrum of possibilities is so broad and yet each element is so unique. There is not one bee honey: there are bee HONEYS, all with their particularities, their flowerings, their aromas, perfumes and colours. The diversity of the countryside manifests in the diversity on the palate. Each plant, each tree, and each one of the five million different flowers are sought after by precious bees in order to obtain ONE litre of delicious nectar, which in turn contains a world in itself and just makes us wonder. 

*Allelopathy is a biological phenomenon through which an organism produces one or more biochemical compounds that influence the growth, survival or reproduction of other organisms. These compounds are known as chemical alleles and can provide beneficial effects (positive allelopathy) or harmful effects (negative allelopathy) to receiving organisms.   

Beekeeping is part of family agriculture, where the farm is a complete and complicated system full of interactions and where the DIVERSITY is key in a specialised world that is lost in the limbo of globalisation and consumerism.

Braulio Castaño

THE FARMERS MARKET is celebrating its third consecutive year despite the restrictions and distancing rules of Covid. The Market continues to connect farmers and consumers through agricultural products in a semi-virtual form. Since August, strategies of biosecurity have been implemented in order to continue as usual, given that the social relations between farmer and consumer are very important. The farmers market continues to be crucial step towards a renewed significance of the countryside and the promotion of conscious and responsible consumption. 

THE SCHOOL OF FAMILIAR AGRICULTURE has taken on new forms, including through the community-based radio, Facebook and WhatsApp. Due to the pandemic, these spaces have converted into a meeting place to share field knowledge in all its dimensions. The microphone has become the voice of the farmers, transmitting their daily interactions with insects, plants, soil, seeds, flowers, flavours and conservation. 

 

CONSERVATION COFFEE, Chronicles of a memorable experience

 

Hugo and Guillermo with the cpatain of the sailing boat Tres Hombres
Hugo and Guillermo with the captain of the sailing boat Tres Hombres

Last February, at the port of Santa Marta, Guillermo Ocampo and Hugo Calderón, both members of Serraniagua as well as coffee producers, owners of nature reserves and representatives of a new generation, had the opportunity to deliver our coffee, the coffee of our nature reserves and the coffee of Serraniagua, to a sailing ship destined for Holland and for our friends of the Climate Alliance Austria. 

This great experience is the beginning of a new revolution that, with persistence and devotion, will change something in the dynamics of our world that is becoming crazier, faster and ever more irrational. The international commerce by means of a sailing ship signals that we step back and let things get back in touch with their elements…and in this case the wind. These people are not pirates, even if they look like ones. No, they are just like you and me, with an enormous heart and an incomparable energy. They achieve something wonderful and continue with the work that we have begun in the mountains of the Serranía de los Paraguas. As Guillermo puts it: “Sending our coffee with a sailing ship is being coherent with everything we do”. If the conservation of our Serranía and the protection of our forests has an impact and generates resilience against climate change, then the use of a sailing ship is a logic continuation, namely a commerce with the least environmental impact possible. It’s the climate alliance marching on! 

At the moment of loading up coffee bags—two times two in a fishing net—while cargo containers destined for Singapore only a few metres away from us are loading up 42 tons each minute, we become conscious of the contrast. It’s David vs Goliath. “While we are aware that these actions alone will not radically change business-as-usual or the frenetic movement of the world, but, using the metaphor of the hummingbird, through these actions we do our part!”

 

The new generation takes control

Considering that the Colombian countryside suffers from an exile of the youth to the cities, we are nonetheless convinced that the youth is the future: and that is reflected in the work team and the group of coffee producers of the organisation. From farm to cup, the young become empowered as much as the dynamism that characterises them. With Hugo, Guillermo, Carlos, Orlain and Efren in the coffee plantations, Santiago with his coffee roaster, and Neftaly and Camila in the laboratory, there is no doubt that a generational renewal is on its way. This creates new ideas and a distinct vision and willpower to advance the work of each one of the members and associates. The crises and disruptions make us reflect on our territory, our values and our culture. By doing so, the COMAM Coffee (Comunidad Ambientalista – Community of Environmentalists), continues to share its philosophy and the richness of a beautiful countryside of a magnificent land.

FESTIVAL “Montañeros” of the Paraguas

 

 

Our way of building peace is through the conservation of culture, the forest, solidary actions and farmer fraternity. Bulletin 2018.

 

This December festival promises a taste of the countryside, highlighting the majestic mountains of the Serrania de los Paraguas with their ethnic communities and farmers. The festival allows for an exchange of experiences and knowledge that revolve around poetry, music and traditional food.  

We celebrate our life, culture and biodiversity, sharing a platform of collaboration and jointly taking on challenges in a territory of global importance. 

 

The popular festivities are privileged events of a life in community and are, at the same time, transitive and reflective: the collectiveness celebrates something, and it celebrates itself. Ariño. 

 

Voices of the community unite to consolidate the processes of territorial governance and co-management of the Serranía.  It reinforces the intercultural, biodiverse and sustainable fabric, which is built on solidary actions, collective challenges and voluntary initiatives for the defence of the unique cultural and natural values of the Serranía and the way of life of its inhabitants: proper, dignified and in peace.  

At last year’s festival, the different municipalities of the Serranía, its associates, friends and montañeritos united for painting activities, the building of recyclable instruments and colourful birds. They got to know and love the territory. Young people joint around a wall, where—through brushstrokes and tonalities— they portrayed the cultural identity of the region and its mountain farmers, exchanged knowledge and engaged in a collective dialogue for the defence of life in the Serranía de los Paraguas.  

The next Festival will be celebrated during the last days of November and the first days of December. We will take the “parrandera” music, our ancestral knowledge and the exchange of words, voices and initiatives for a ride on a colourful chiva, which will make its way through the districts and municipalities along the mountains of the Serranía de los Paraguas.