Colombian nature threatened by mining and Uribe government

This video says about itself:

Work of wildlife cinematographer Fernando Riano of Colombia is featured in this beautiful portrait by writer/director/editor David Roth Weiss.

From Wildlife Extra:

Ecological disaster looms in Colombia: Mining companies granted rights over unique habitats yet to be explored by science

17/08/2009 12:42:15

Serranía de San Lucas at major risk

August 2009. The Serranía de San Lucas is one of the last unknown frontiers for biologists. Isolated and once covered with 2.5 million acres of forest to 7,500 feet elevation, none of it is protected and only a fraction of its forests survive. Sadly almost every acre has been designated as mining concessions for gold. This incredible and unique massif is at imminent risk of destruction.

Brief survey found new & endangered species – Declared an IBA

Serranía de San Lucas is an isolated 110 km massif in northern Colombia that rises to 7,500 feet (2,300 m) and is covered by lush tropical rainforests. Incredibly, this spectacular massif is biologically unstudied, bar a brief exploration by ProAves researchers during 1999 to 2001 at the lower elevations of 700 to 4,500 feet (200-1,400 m).

This survey registered over 370 bird species including 11 endangered species plus a high concentration of endangered mammals, such as the rare Spectacled Bear and five species of primates. These preliminary results highlighted the global importance of the Serranía de San Lucas for biodiversity and led to the conclusion that there likely to be many species of flora and fauna unknown to science at higher elevations. As a result of the threatened species found during these studies, the region was declared as globally important for conservation: an Important Bird Area (IBA) in 2005.

Least studies region of the Western Hemisphere?

Biologically, the Serranía de San Lucas remains the least known and most interesting area in the Western Hemisphere, a massif that potentially holds an entire community of flora and fauna unknown to science. During the 1999-2001 expedition, various new frog species for science and several new bird taxa were found, which still await description.

Unimaginable environmental crisis

Unfortunately, the San Lucas massif is facing an unimaginable environmental crisis, a victim of its own wealth of huge gold and timber resources. Until recent years, natural resource extraction on the massif has been largely artisanal owing to decades of political instability. But the rising demand and price of gold has spurred an unprecedented “gold rush”.

Despite the importance for biodiversity and in flagrant disregard for environmental impact studies, the Colombian Government has granted mining concessions to large multinational gold mining companies as Anglo Gold Ashanti of South Africa among others. These companies already have claimed rights to destroy almost the entire area of Serranía de San Lucas (see gold mining concession maps) with hydraulic and hard-rock mining activities.

Biodiversity Treasure – Only 10% left

To hand over the Serranía de San Lucas to mining companies is not only irresponsible but represents a potential catastrophe to Colombia and the planet. Serranía de san Lucas is a biodiversity treasure that Colombia and the world should be proud of. Unfortunately, none of the mining companies support the protection of biodiversity and sadly, not a single hectare of the San Lucas massif is protected for biodiversity conservation. Of 2.5 million acres of original forest cover on the massif, only 10% survives and that is estimated to largely be destroyed and fragmented in just eight years.

The consequences of losing 2.5 million acres of forest beside the Colombia’s most important river – the Rio Magdalena, together with heavy land degradation and environmental pollution through mercury and cyanide from mining activities, are incalculable. For example, as extreme weather events become ever more frequent, the situation for millions of people living within the Rio Magdalena valley flood area will be dire.

Void of biological information

Absurdly, after the government had handed over Serranía de San Lucas to mining companies, a workshop was held on July 31 2009 in the city of Cartagena to establish Biodiversity Conservation Priorities for the Serranía de San Lucas, framed within the theme of Planning and Sustainable Development. The workshop was led by the Ministry of Environment, Housing and Territorial Development, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Experts in biological groups, such as the Alexander von Humboldt and Ecohabitat Foundation, among others were present with ProAves. All experts agreed on the biological and environmental importance of the San Lucas massif.

Two conclusions of the workshop included an acknowledgement of a tremendous void of biological information and the imminent concern about the lack of a national or private protected area. ProAves therefore suggested that a critical priority be the creation of Serranía de San Lucas National Park to protect its unique ecosystem, biodiversity and many globally endangered species.

Unfortunately, the Colombian government does not agree on the establishment of an effective protected area for the region, preferring a “Forest Reserve” that permits mining of the entire area.

In conclusion, the Serranía de San Lucas with its unique biodiversity and ecosystem function for Colombia and the planet is at extreme risk of extinction within a decade.

See the EBA report published by ProAves about the biodiversity of Serranía de San Lucas.

Hooded paramilitaries have massacred 12 indigenous people at a reserve in Colombia‘s Narino state: here.

6 thoughts on “Colombian nature threatened by mining and Uribe government


    Liberia’s Plans to Resume Industrial Primary Rainforest Logging Already Plagued by Corruption as Samling Poised to Pounce

    By Rainforest Rescue, with
    Ecological Internet’s Rainforest Portal,
    August 18, 2009


    The fact notorious illegal loggers Samling of Malaysia; who have devastated rainforests globally including those of the Penan, are surreptitiously in contention for Liberian logging contracts illustrates, despite decades of failed reform efforts locally and internationally, that the global industrial tropical timber logging industry remains irredeemably corrupt. There is no evidence first time industrial logging of primary forests is ever ecologically sustainable or reduces poverty. Please call upon Liberian President to pursue development based upon standing rainforests, and reject entirely the resumption of industrial logging.

    NOTE: After sending this protest you are forwarded to several crucial ongoing alerts, which we ask you to please send as well.




  2. Paramilitaries kill two unionists

    Colombia: The CUT trade union confederation has condemned the assassination of two union members by paramilitaries.

    Despite President Alvaro Uribe’s assertions that killings of union activists have declined, teachers and health workers continue to be attacked, CUT leader Tarsicio Mora Godoy insisted.

    Doctor Jairo Martínez Solarte, who was shot dead in Cali, and teacher Diego Cobo, who was killed by two masked men in the northern Cordoba department, were the latest victims, the confederation revealed.


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