WCS Colombia

Andean-Amazon Piedmont

The Andean-Amazonian Piedmont

The foothills are situated at the junction of the Andes and the Amazon basin. Biogeographically they range from the Southwest of Colombia to the South of Peru and Bolivia. In Colombia, the Central Region of the Piedmont is mainly located in the Amazon region, in the states of Putumayo and Caquetá, in the jurisdiction of the Corporation for the Sustainable Development of the Southern Amazon - Corpoamazonia.

The forests in this region have ecological characteristics of both the Andes and the Amazon, demonstrating high levels of diversity, for which they are considered as sites of interest for biological conservation and research. In the Piedmont the Putumayo and Caquetá rivers originate, side streams of the Amazon River that go down to the lowlands through predominantly continuous forests. In the high areas of the foothills, where WCS focuses its work since 2009, there are increasing threats of anthropogenic origin.

Conservation Challenges

In the Amazon region, most of the human settlements and their sociopolitical and economic dynamics are concentrated in the Piedmont. The landscape has undergone many impacts and transformations due to various booms such as rubber, the cinchona tree, the wildlife fur trade, coca production, and oil. During the last decade (2000-2010) 432,320 hectares of forest were lost, and most of these areas were transformed into pasture, secondary vegetation, shrubs and heterogeneous agricultural areas (SIAC 2015) due to various human activities.

The activities taking place in the region can be divided into two main groups: planned activities and unplanned activities. The planned activities are projects that require authorization by environmental or regional authorities, or that are subject to the regulations of land management or national, governmental or municipal policies (i.e. extraction of oil). Unplanned activities on the other hand, are those who do not need an explicit environmental procedure for their development, or which are within the scope of informality or illegality (i.e. illicit crops).

Given this context, it is clear that the Andean-Amazon Piedmont has a number of biological, social and economic characteristics, among which the following stand out: the concentration of the human population, fragmentation of natural vegetation, high biodiversity and the development the productive sector (mainly mining and hydrocarbons). These factors make the implementation of appropriate conservation strategies highly relevant, with the objective of maintaining biodiversity and its ecosystem services whilst also generating sustainable development.

Conservation actions

*Environmental Monitoring for the Sustainable and Adaptive Management of the Central Region of the Andean-Amazonian Piedmont 

The Conservation and Governance Program in the Amazon Piedmont (C & G) is an initiative funded by USAID and coordinated by Natural Heritage – Fund for Biodiversity and Protected Areas. In the component of the program "generating technical information and monitoring for effective management", Wildlife Conservation Society - WCS Colombia, is developing the project "Environmental Monitoring for the Sustainable and Adaptive Management of the Central Region of the Andean-Amazonian Piedmont”.

The objective of this project is to develop an Environmental Monitoring Program that will support structured decision-making in the Colombian Andean-Amazonian foothills. Specifically, the project aims to develop a set of methodological tools that allow monitoring and a continuous diagnosis of the environmental balance. This means assessing relevant, robust and timely information on biodiversity trends and ecosystem services in the territory, focusing particularly on the losses and gains related to planned activities, using this information in decision-making processes in the Andean-Amazonian Piedmont. These tools will describe the processes and procedures for the collection and analysis of information according to the aforementioned approach. With such decision-making processes, the objective is to achieve at least a zero balance, which entails maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services over time, where the positive impacts of activities on biodiversity outweigh the negative impacts. 

*Compensations for the Loss of Biodiversity. An Overview of the Andean Amazon of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru.

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