The Orinoco River flows from the Andesin Colombia to the Atlantic in Venezuela. The area of the basin includes landscapes of the Andes, plains of the Llanos and the Guiana shield. Orinoco’s tributary rivers form a basin considered to be the 3rd most important river system on the planet, and one of the most biologically diverse areas of the world.
Just recently the Ministry of Environment passed a decree to standardize the Protected Area categories and to organize the National System of Protected Areas. More than 100 protected areas and more than 100 indigenous reserves have been established in the Colombian Orinoco Basin over the last six decades. However, the only strictly protected areas in Colombia are the National Natural Parks System Areas, which protect only 10% of the area of natural ecosystems and less than 50% of the natural ecosystems in the Basin. Indigenous Reserves help significantly in the conservation of the natural ecosystems in the Basin, but are not a Protected Area category, making it difficult for indigenous groups to assist with natural conservation in Colombia.
Although the protected area has almost doubled, ecosystem protection does not increase proportionally, which is a sign of the lack of planning and management capacities of the regional and local governments that established most of these areas. Urgent actions should be taken to ensure protection of the natural ecosystems of high conservation value, as these may be significantly endangered. It is possible that more than 22,350 km² of natural savannas will be lost over the next 10 years, and effective counter measures are necessary now to prevent losing these biodiversity hotspots forever.
(Full New from Science News)