FUNDACIÓN EDENES DE COLOMBIA.
ACCESO A PARAÍSOS DE COLOMBIA (ACCESS TO COLOMBIA’S PARADISES)
Project Status: January 2017 – January 2022
GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
To protect the rock climbing areas and parks of Colombia and to ensure access for the outdoor community in a safe and organized way.
- To bring the outdoor community together in order to promote environmental awareness, waste management and good outdoor practices.
- To identify, monitor and protect wildlife in rock climbing areas.
- To strengthen the education process destined to children and youth on the matters of outdoor sports, peace, health and environmental awareness.
- To support and facilitate negotiations in order to gain access to rock climbing areas and parks through discussions and arrangements with the landowners.
- To further develop adventure sports and outdoor activities practised in or around rock climbing areas in a sustainable way.
Expectations and outcomes:
- The climbing community, mountaineers, landowners, tour operators, companies, municipalities…etc, will be united, educated, made more aware and committed to protecting the environment.
- Rock climbing guide of Colombia to promote the conservation of rock climbing areas.
- Access to rock climbing and mountaineering sites in the country, which would be well managed, organized and safe.
- Increase in the number of children and youth practising outdoor sports.
CONTRIBUTION TO MOUNTAIN PROTECTION
In Colombia, the rock climbing community has been increasingly growing, creating the need for a regulating entity which is able to centralize information, promote good practises and act as an intermediary between the outdoor community and the landowners or managers in order to avoid closings and other inconveniences. Edenes de Colombia’s contribution would be to help protect designated areas with education and management activities.
Young climbers and mountaineers need to be made aware of the importance of caring for the environment since they will eventually be the ones responsible for its conservation as well as the promotion of good practices and environmental awareness. This is why we are implementing a culture of conservation of nature, aware of the importance of outdoor sports, through campaigns promoting good practices in the communities around rock climbing areas and indoor climbing gyms. If we unite, we can strive for the right to access those areas, granted the outdoor community engages to care for them and respect them.
An example of these contributions is the educational activities realized in December of 2016 with children and youth in Suesca, one of the biggest rock climbing areas in the country, where Edenes de Colombia offered books and information to a community who has yet to benefit from the growing sports tourism in their area.
The goal is to share information about sports, health, environment, etc. with the local populations surrounding the climbing areas and parks in the country. We also plan to offer education about risk prevention, safety, first aid and “Leave no trace” basic principles through workshops, courses and education campaigns in climbing gyms and outdoor-sports shops. Regarding the relationships with landowners, we are currently negotiating agreements to obtain access by offering to manage the site (management plan, signalization, information, rules, etc.). We are currently forming the OLAs, LOAs (Local Organizations for Access), work teams composed of climbers and landowners, united in order to take care of the education processes.
In addition to social and cultural contributions, Edenes de Colombia seeks to help in resources conservation. The 32 (and counting) climbing areas of Colombia are situated in various ecosystems boasting a high rate of biodiversity. We want to get to know the flora and fauna better in order to protect those precious sites. Our ideal would be to maintain and preserve the ecosystems of each climbing area, creating a system of rock climbing parks and conservation.
BENEFITS FOR LOCAL COMMUNITIES
Interaction with local communities is the most important step in reaching our objectives since it is essential to the maintenance of climbing areas. Through the OLAs climbers can connect with landowners, when the land is private, or with city administrations and other organizations if public. When all all the parties involved become allies and reach agreements to allow access, then the climbing areas can become a destination for outdoor sports and activities. After reaching those agreements and having negotiated access, the members of OLAs and our foundation will unite in our efforts to keep the sites organized, well managed and safe.
Also, the education projects with children and youth is important to create a place for them to get to know rock climbing or other outdoor sports, to understand the importance of nature and learn other livelihoods without losing their rural roots. The local communities will benefit from knowing about and understanding the potential of sports tourism, giving them better opportunities and perspectives in the long term.
BEYOND BUSINESS AS USUAL
Edenes de Colombia is the first project in the country attempting to unite the community in the protection of current or potential rock climbing areas. The outdoor community needs to understand the importance of taking care of the sites they visit and enjoy and commit to their protection. Those areas have specific flora and fauna as well as rupestrian art, all of it sensitive and vulnerable. It is necessary to work together to solve main problems such as the lack of unity in the outdoor community, the unawareness of the importance of environmental protection, poor waste management, growing numbers of climbers, safety issues, etc.
With the development of this project, we expect the local communities will benefit from the increase of athletes and from being part of the management process, the touristic development, and the education of children and youth. The project will foster the development of sports and ecotourism and the climbing community will promote a culture of caring and respect of mountain environment. It will also create employment in the following areas: land and access management, route-setting and re-equipping, natural resources conservation, risk management and first-aid, flora and fauna biology, ecotourism and environmental and practical education.
This will be made possible through:
- Environmental and experiential education projects for local children and youth to encourage sports, health, peacefulness and respect for the environment. It could take the form of running sessions, biodanza, readings, bird watching or rock climbing.
- Access and land management projects in private lands : conciliation, negotiation and agreements with the owners to access rock-climbing areas.
- Inventory and management of flora and fauna in every climbing zone.
- Risk-management workshop program : workshops teaching basic first-aid, appropriate use of climbing equipment and safe techniques at the crag or on the mountain (checking equipment and re-equipping climbing routes).
- Programs and campaigns for education, signage, reforestation, trail building, etc.
SUPPORTING STEWARDSHIP IN MOUNTAIN REGIONS
In all the climbing areas of Colombia (over 32 already developed and many more to explore), it is possible to work in collaboration with the local communities to improve projections regarding participation in outdoor sports and environmental care.
This project aims to centralize information on a virtual platform (climbing and trekking guidebooks) so everybody could access it and participate actively in any project or education campaign. LAOs (Local Access Organizations) can establish a link between local climbing communities, route-setters or other contributors and the local citizens. This link would allow the promotion of the different activities of protection and conservation in the climbing areas.
This project is fully inclusive, meaning that everybody interested in any project is welcome to participate. In the rock-climbing areas, the interested locals will get training in guide work and tourist management, so they can improve their skills and knowledge and make use of the potential in their area. In Florián, Santander, in cooperation with the municipality, a program will be offered to the local population interested in improving their knowledge in tourism, climbing equipment handling and specialized guiding (trekking, bird-watching, rock climbing, mountain biking and hiking). The objective is to boost economy and encourage healthy habits in each area using their characteristics and possibilities. The ideal would be for everybody to participate (service providers, tourist operators, youth, climbers, outdoor enthusiasts, customers, brands, town hall, etc.). This way, we can expect a significant development of the outdoor sports culture and raised awareness of the importance of caring and protecting our mountains.