PARAMO brings together a multidisciplinary team of experts to support Colombia in developing and protecting its biodiversity, ecosystem and culture.
The tropics harbour more species than anywhere else on Earth. This biodiversity supports a number of ecosystem services – benefits that humankind derives from the natural environment, including water, nutrient-rich soils and pest-control by predatory birds and insects – that are essential for human well-being, and it also underpins many cultural attachments that people have with nature.
However, the disturbance of natural habitats and their conversion for other uses, such as farming, are driving a global extinction crisis. The PARAMO project takes an innovative approach to understand the links between biodiversity and ecosystem services and cultural provision using the Colombian Andes as a case study.
The Colombian Andes are one of the most biodiverse places on Earth. Their soils contain carbon-rich peats and their ecosystem supports the majority of Colombia’s people, inspiring cultural values on both a personal and community level. In spite of this tremendous wealth, hostilities in Colombia have long hampered research into eco-cultural relationships.
The reduction in hostilities in recent years has created an opportunity to develop a sustainable bioeconomy – the economic exploitation of its natural resources, underpinned by Colombia’s biodiversity.
There are inherent environmental and cultural risks of capitalising upon biodiversity, which could drive negative outcomes for conservation or society. The multidisciplinary PARAMO programme will address the major, unanswered question of how best to incorporate and optimise biodiversity, ecosystem services and cultural values within natural resource management. In doing so, we will transform the role of cultural heritage and human-environmental experiential knowledge within the design of conservation programmes.
PARAMO will answer this key overarching question by fulfilling four main objectives that will:
- define the impacts of habitat conversion and disturbance on biodiversity
- resolve how ecosystem service provisioning and resilience is affected by habitat conversion and disturbance, focusing specifically on carbon stocking, nutrient recycling, soil nutrient and water retention, and landslide prevention
- understand how local communities perceive and attach cultural value to biodiversity and ecosystem services, via a programme of storytelling workshops
- integrate environmental and cultural values to co-design natural resource management and translate these findings to core stakeholders, from local communities to NGOs and relevant government departments
PARAMO research will thus enable our multidisciplinary team of experts to support Colombia in developing its economy while protecting biodiversity, ecosystem services and cultural values and beliefs.
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