The presentation of the Colombian Red List of Ecosystems –RLE (version 2.0) was held last August 16, led by Conservación Internacional, the Universidad Javeriana and the Humboldt Institute.
Colombia is the seventh largest country in the American Continent and the second with the greatest biodiversity. Such biodiversity is evidenced through its mountainous terrains, ecosystems, species and climate of its 5 regions: the Amazonian (the least populated and with a high level of humidity and rainfall), the Andean (the Andes of Colombia, including the valleys interspersed between the Cauca and Magdaleno rivers, are the most populated zones of the country), the Caribbean (from high plains with high floodable zones-where the broadest swamps of Colombia are located- up to mountainous zones. The climate is usually warm and semi-arid), the Insular (with coral ecosystems and great diversity of water species), the Orinoco (a flat, low-lying zone with little population) and the Pacific Region (comprising high plains and mountain groups).
The coastal zones, towards the Pacific and the Atlantic have many swamps and forests. They are humid regions with the highest level of rainfall in the planet. Colombia also has half of the wastelands of the planet (44.25% of the South American Continent), becoming one of the countries with most humid areas in the world.
Given these circumstances, the Red List of Ecosystems-RLE of Colombia has an important role in the assessment, study and conservation of the broad biodiversity of the country.
A first version of the Colombian RLE titled: State of the Colombian Ecosystems 2014: an application of the methodology of the RLE, written by Andrés Etter, Angela Andrade, Paula Amaya and Paulo Arevalo was published in 2015 and created as part of the project "From Alaska to Patagonia," funding by Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and led by the IUCN, the CEM and Provita.
In this first study, the application of the analytical method allowed to identify the existence of 20 (25%) Critically Endangered (CR) ecosystems, and 17 (21%) Endangered (EN) ecosystems, which demonstrated that almost half of the Colombian ecosystems presented threatening conditions to their integrity.
The presentation of the reviewed version of the Colombian Red List of Ecosystems (Version 2.0) was held in Bogota on last August 16; nationally led by: Conservación Internacional, the Universidad Javeriana and the Humboldt Institute.
81 ecosystems of the country were assessed in this last version, broadening and adjusting the methodological approach of the C and D criteria. The Criterion C assesses mainly risks related to the abiotic processes, in this particular case, changes in the water availability and soil degradation. The Criterion D assesses risks related to the biotic processes, in this particular case, changes in seed dispersal or pollination processes.
Results are shocking: from the 81 assessed ecosystems, 46% is endangered or critically endangered due to man-made activities.
According to the report, the Tropical Dry Forest, the Tropical Desert and areas of the Tropical Rainforest of the Lowland Piedmont are the most threatened ecosystems due to accumulative transformation processes.
Likewise, and highlighting the mentioned report of the Colombia Humbolt Institute 2015 about biodiversity, 34% of ecosystems have suffered transformations, among them: rivers, streams, spouts ad lagoons, due to irreversible wear because of human settlements and exploitation of forest, agricultural, oil and mining resources since the Colombian economy is mainly based in the raw material extraction such as oil, natural gas, coal and gold.
Only 8% of the Tropical Dry Forest remains from the 9 million hectares that existed in Colombia in 1970. This means that sadly, the original ecosystems are partially or completely replaced by anthropogenic landscapes, without any legislation to regulate or avoid it.
According to the report, 48% of the country presents desertification processes, equivalent to 49 million hectares transformed into arid or semi-arid zones.
With the IUCN Red list of Ecosystems, experts and researcher aim to establish relations with the local governments and institutions to promote the implementation of mechanisms for the biodiversity and ecosystems conservation.
Colombia has now the important mission ahead of rescuing and avoiding the accumulative disappearance of its natural heritage. The Red List of Ecosystems is an excellent tool to establish the necessary partnerships, generate awareness and implicate different stakeholders for biodiversity conservation.
Written by: Marianna Collet C.
Translator: Carmen Quintero
Provita Aug 29, 2017