Biodiversity and cultural conservation in Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia
Proyecto de Conservaci n de Aguas y Tierras (ProCAT) is an international non-profit organisation with the purpose of improving the knowledge of tropical Meso and South-American mountain ecosystems and species using an interdisciplinary approach, making a contribution to scientific knowledge to help management and conservation decision-making. The project's initial focus was tropical mountain forests and the jaguar as a key species in Costa Rica, but the continual advance of conservation problems made the study move to a wider range of terrestrial species and marine ecosystems. Currently, one of the focus areas of ProCAT is the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta (SNSM) in Colombia, a critical area for conservation because of its important hydrological resources, its high levels of endemic species, variety of ecosystems and richness both biologically and culturally. Due to historical, political, social and economic problems in Colombia, the SNSM has faced a chaotic, uncontrolled process of land usage and unsustainable natural resource exploitation that has led to a decrease of 80 percent of the natural ecosystems. The socio-political situation has limited the development, research and protection of natural areas, as seen in a small number of recent reliable studies and projects.