Chingaza, a national park 40 miles from Bogotá in the eastern range of the Colombian Andes, is a stunning retreat, and a favorite amongst bird watchers. It features montane forest, mountain lakes, and páramo.
The páramo, some at more than 11,000 feet above sea level, monitor the flow of water from the high mountains to the lakes and rivers below. The páramo act as a sponge, absorbing and then conducting enormous quantities of water down the mountainside to the cloud forests where the water is further filtered and directed into rivers and reservoirs for Bogotá and Medellin.
But la Niña and climate change are destroying the páramo at Chingaza National Park, and this is affecting the water supply in Bogota and Medellin. In fact, the growing floods caused by la Niña, coupled with climate change, are likely to lead to chronic drought in the region, and threaten the water supply for millions in Bogotá and Medellín.
The páramo are also important in controlling floods, as well as soil erosion and landslides.
According the World Bank, more than three million Colombians – about seven percent of the total population – were displaced or suffered significant damage to their homes in 2011 alone as a result of flooding.