The Rio Magdalena is the longest river in Colombia. It is estimated that upwards of 8 million people depend on the river for drinking water, growing agricultural crops and sanitation.
The Magdalena Medio is home to a huge range of animal and plant species, many of which are only found in this area. Animals such as the Critically Endangered blue-billed curassows and spider monkeys, silvery-brown tamarin; jaguars; Magdalena river turtles; are found here, and all are under threat of extinction.
Approximately 1 million people live in the Magdalena Medio, but this situation is rapidly changing. The region is increasingly attractive for humans to settle, develop and establish businesses (both legal and illegal). An estimated 35,000 miners operate in the area, the vast majority of whom use mercury to extract the gold or use excavators which have a devastating effect on human health and the river ecosystem. In 1995, the Serranía de San Lucas (forested massif in northern Colombia) had more than 500,000 ha of pristine forest, some of the largest fragments in the Andes. Deforestation has caused a reduction of 60% in these forests, with less than 120’000 ha now remaining.
At this rhythm, in ten years there will not be any forest left in the Serranía.
Currently there is an ongoing initiative led by the National Park System to create a National Park in San Lucas.
An alliance led by us, Proyecto Primates, Panthera and the Wildlife Conservation Society has been supporting the National Parks System of Colombia in the process of declaring a protected area in the Serranía de San Lucas. Read more about our Columbia project here.
We are working hard to build a local and national constituency for the ‘San Lucas Conservation Process’; this will be achieved through a strengthening and broadening of the ‘Alliance for the Middle Magdalena’. We are working with the other organisations to draw up detailed biological explorations of the area. These explorations will provide the required information for the National Parks System to move forward with the process.
Finally, we are developing, testing, tailoring and promoting complimentary conservation strategies, particularly looking at private and community reserves and alternative sustainable productive systems.
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