Natives of Colombia
Photography: Gabriel Eisenband - Andrés Mauricio López
Colombia is a privileged country for its enormous natural wealth. We have made significant progress, like few others, in protecting this great wealth in perpetuity and with constitutional and legal safeguards, for this and future generations. I invite you to enjoy the majesty that the protected areas in Colombia offer us and to appreciate how important they are for our survival, for the well-being of the communities that are part of them and for the cultural and historical values that inhabit them.
Protecting these areas is protecting life itself, it is leaving a legacy for the enjoyment of a Colombia where "green is of all colors", as described by the Colombian poet Aurelio Arturo, who interpreted the diversity of Colombia with a perfect pen where multiculturalism and natural wealth are expressed, owner of an extensive landscape where we can appropriate
endless deserts, lush jungles or reaching the white, white of one of our snow-capped peaks.
Colombia occupies first place in biodiversity per square kilometer and has 311 types of continental and marine ecosystems, which imposes a great challenge on us in terms of protection and sustainable development.
In this sense, the National Government, through the environmental sector, set the mega goal of expanding Colombia's protected ecosystems to nearly 26 million hectares in the four-year period 2014-2018. We reached the goal a year in advance and today we have protected nearly 29 million hectares that involve ecosystems of moors, forests, jungles and marine areas, getting closer to the goal of leaving the country with more than 30 million hectares protected in perpetuity.
This is equivalent to about six times the area of Costa Rica, a country that lives off its natural resources in a sustainable way. The recent expansion of the protected area system has played a fundamental role in the process of
access to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) because with it we satisfactorily addressed two of the most important environmental recommendations that the organization made to us: significantly increase terrestrial and marine protected areas, and protect highly vulnerable ecosystems and rich in endemic species and threatened biodiversity, such as the forests of the central Andean valleys, the dry forest of the savannahs of the Caribbean region and the paramos.
This access allows Colombia to learn from the experiences of OECD countries that have successfully faced similar environmental challenges.
What does it mean to have more protected areas in Colombia? Protected areas are widely recognized as a vital strategy in efforts to conserve our natural resources and biodiversity, to strengthen the ecological integrity of our ecosystems, to reduce the risks and impacts of extreme climate events, and to contribute to adaptation and climate change mitigation.
Protected areas preserve our most representative ecosystems and ensure the continuity of natural ecological and evolutionary processes to protect biological diversity, maintain the supply of goods and services
essential environments for human well-being and guarantee the permanence of the natural environment, as a foundation for the maintenance of the country's cultural diversity and the social appreciation of nature.
In each region of the country we have protected areas of infinite beauty. In the Amazon, for example, we find the Serranía de Chiribiquete National Natural Park, a mosaic of Amazonian landscapes, which constitutes one of the areas with the highest biological diversity on the planet. In the heart of the Colombian coffee region, the Los Nevados National Natural Park, a protected area that is at the same time an articulating axis of biological connectivity. Towards the Caribbean with the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta we have the mountain formation
highest coastline in the world, birthplace of the Tayrona, a protected area of particular scenic beauty and great cultural significance.
Within the protected areas there are also marine areas such as the Yuruparí Malpelo National Integrated Management District, a strategic point
for the presence of many key species, both at the fishing level and for conservation. In the Orinoquía is the Sierra de la Macarena National Natural Park, an extraordinary area with the presence of unique and
archaeological samples on the Duda and Guayabero rivers, where petroglyphs and pictograms of ancestral guardians who left us this legacy of communion with nature are found.
The environmental, social and economic benefits that protected areas provide us are incalculable, as is the damage and transformation that the planet has suffered due to the actions of man.
We know that environmental assets must become the basis of the country's development in a context of paradigm change, which is why in the last four years of this government around 210,000 hectares have been restored throughout the national territory, which which is equivalent to a little more than the area of the department of Quindío, Bogotá or half of the department of Atlántico.
Today Colombia is, without a doubt, a benchmark in Latin America and the Caribbean in terms of the administration and management of protected areas. This condition invites us to recognize the importance of the conservation and use of biodiversity,
as the only way to continue seeing a world full of colors.
This book captures the essence of "natural Colombia" represented in the 59 areas belonging to the National Natural Park System and the new areas under conservation.
In these pages, in addition to beautiful photographs that immerse us in a world that we could call magical, we will find life, culture and traditional knowledge and epic stories of nature itself. A legacy is immersed here, the true world where we all want to live, full of bright sunrises, warm sunsets, the simplicity of greatness. The world of colors, the wonderful world of our natural heritage expressed in our protected areas.