Chingaza fauna includes endemic species such as a subspecies of the neotropical red squirrel, the mountain parakeet, and the tawny-bellied hermit. The park is also home to the endangered spectacled bear and red brocket deer and at least 156 bird species within the park and its buffer zone.
Several endangered species are illegally trapped for commercial purposes. Severe threats are being felt in Chingaza from colonists clearing the Andean forest for agriculture and cattle ranching. It is estimated that colonization accounts for 76% of the deforestation occurring in the park, with logging and industrial purposes also contributing.
A Strategy of Success
When Parks in Peril (PIP) began working in Chingaza in 1992, the park lacked strong management, information on species, ecological processes, and socio-economic forces, a stable buffer zone, good communication between the involved groups, environmental education, community extension programs, and basic research programs. It also was hampered by a conflictive situation with the Bogota Water Company (EAAB) which owns 40% of the park. Under PIP, activities were targeted at supporting infrastructure, acquiring equipment, increasing training of park staff, and enlarging the park.
PIP worked to strengthen the communication between park staff, partner organization Fundación Natura, and local communities to pave the way for a long-term strategic vision of the park to be defined. After three years of diligent work, negotiations between Unidad de Parques (Colombia National Park Service) and EAAB resulted in a new cooperative agreement being signed. Activities were initiated in the surrounding communities to promote awareness of the park and gain participation in local planning and zoning. PIP also provided an environmental monitoring system through GIS hardware that can supply information for decision-making. The park’s size was also increased by 30,000 hectares.
Consolidation was also achieved by strengthening the institutional presence of the Unidad de Parques and its credibility at the local and regional levels. PIP supported the financial strategy for the national park system, using Chingaza as a pilot case in the implementation of the legislation for water concessions and water use fees. PIP has supported management and financial planning in Chingaza and produced a long-term financial plan that will help to guide future management actions. With PIP funding and Fundación Natura’s support, Chingaza staff can envision a strategy into the future by working on a long-term plan to guarantee its stability, something that not many parks in Colombia can do.
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