Colombia: Farming and mining threaten unique ecosystems and the population´s access to water

Author: The Guardian (UK), Published on: 11 April 2019

“In the land of El Dorado, clean water has become ‘blue gold’”, 9th April 2019

…In the land where the legend of El Dorado began, the race is on to solve the mystery of a vital 21st-century treasure – the water that tens of millions of people rely upon across northern South America. “It’s blue gold, and we are looking for it,” says Mauricio Diazgranados, a Colombian botanist. The misty and marshy páramo landscapes that sit above the tree line and below the snow caps of the soaring Andes peaks are known as the living factories that ensure a steady flow of clean water to the region’s growing population. But after many centuries of protection as sacred places, the páramos face a battery of threats: destruction by farming and mining, rapidly rising temperatures and a triple plague attacking the exotic frailejones plants that stand like silent armies defending the land…[T]he páramos, the most biodiverse mountain ecosystem in the world, are now in mortal danger and no one knows how much has been lost already. Gold is again a factor, via both legal and illegal mining, along with coal and iron ore extraction. Global warming heats up mountains even faster than the lowlands, and it is predicted that half the remaining páramos could be destroyed by 2050…

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