Mapping Ecosystem Services in Colombia’s Putumayo Region to Inform a Compensation Scheme to Establish Silvopastoral Systems
The rain and cloud forests of Colombia’s Upper Putumayo region are becoming increasingly exposed to agriculture, ranching, and infrastructure development. These activities can have adverse effects on water supply and quality, soil erosion, carbon capture and sequestration, and biodiversity. The additional impacts from climate change intensify these effects and can have serious consequences for future ecosystem services supply, development and livelihoods. InVEST was used to map the main ecosystem services to the region, in order to identify the areas providing the greatest supply of people-benefitting ecosystem services and those services most vulnerable to degradation from the effects of climate change. Areas with the greatest concentration of ecosystem services and/or highest level of degradation from the effects of climate change can then be considered as priority sites for actions targeted at conserving the benefits that these ecosystem services provide. Two such actions are: 1) the establishment of silvopastoral systems, which incorporate strategically tree or shrub productive species cover on ranchlands; and 2) compensation and rewards for ecosystem services schemes, which create incentives for better land management.
What is the problem?
The Sibundoy valley with 46,000 ha is located into the Andean Amazon piedmont, Colombia’s Upper Putumayo region (Fig 1.) endowed with a wealth of biodiversity and natural resources (Barthlott et al. 1996, Gentry 1988). However the ecosystem services around these richness area face three interlinked problems: 1) agriculture and ranching operations, as well as large-scale infrastructure projects, are encroaching on natural ecosystems, which are critical resources for local populations; 2) the expansion of these projects cannot be halted completely as they provide livelihoods to local people and contribute to the development of Colombia’s economy; and 3) climate change is further exacerbating the deleterious effects of provision on ecosystem services, by increasing the variability of precipitation and temperature.
Figure 1. Location of Upper Putumayo and Study Area
The Upper Putumayo as others headwaters of the Amazon River is covered by rain and cloud forests, figment of climatic fluctuation through the geologic history close to the Andes (Haffer 2008, Kreft et al. 2004). These forests provide essential ecosystem services, including water supply and pollution regulation, prevention of soil erosion, and carbon capture and sequestration (WWF Colombia and Corpoamazonia, 2010). Farmers, ranchers, and communities rely on the continuous source of clean water that the Putumayo River provides; nevertheless the agricultural frontier expansion and deforestation have increased erosion process with sediment consequences to the local irrigation system. At the same time,...