About 30 miles outside of Bogota lies a large tract of ‘paramo’ – mountainous uplands with a unique ecosystem.
However this ecosystem is under threat from farming: large areas of land have been cleared of the native vegetation to make way for food crops and grazing for cattle. The sides of the valley are very steep and, without indigenous species which trap water and protect the soil, large amounts of soil are running off into the river basin and polluting the water supply of Bogota.
This is the water supply used by Bavaria, SABMiller’s business in Colombia. Because the water has to be so intensively treated to remove the sediment, the charges which Bavaria has been paying have escalated in recent years.
In order to address the challenge, a project has been set up by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in partnership with other NGOs, government departments, the Bogota water company and Bavaria. The project aims to remove 2,000 tonnes of sediment from the city’s water supply annually. This will be achieved by promoting reforestation and encouraging sustainable land use by farmers working in the paramo; for example cattle ranchers are given better pastures for their herds, improving their milk yields but also moving them off the steepest slopes, farmers agree to give over certain areas of land and plant native species which both protect the soil and use less water than alien species.