Colombia’s Minister of Environment confirmed that after conversations with the Ministry of Mining the government will declare the Estrella Fluvial de Inirida river area protected as the country’s sixth Ramsar Wetland of International Importance, according to newspaper El Espectador Sunday.
According to Environment Minister Luz Sarmiento, President Juan Manuel Santos will sign in the first-half of the year, in order to protect over 253,000 hectares in the eastern state of Guainia in the Amazon region of the country bordering Venezuela and Brazil.
“I have met with the Minister of Mining (Amylkar Acosta), and as a government we have decided that the Star River of the South deserves environmental protection. This is a site with many non-renewable resources, but the importance of the water sources for the future of the country is fundamental,” said Sarmiento.
In February of last year, former Minister of Mining Federico Renjifo said about the soon-to-be protected area, “there exists a very important potential in mining material”, referencing the reserves of coltan, gold, platinum, copper, phosphorus and carbon metals that had been identified in the region.
Renjifo understood that declaring the area protected would prevent future mining operations, causing the Ministry of Mining to delay until this year ratification of the declaration.
Under the environmental protection regulations, the plan will allow indigenous groups who inhabit the area to engage in sustainable development. Artisan mining will remain illegal, but it will encourage development of ecotourism economic activity, sustainable fishing, and forest agriculture and animal husbandry.
In the zone live 15 tribes belonging to the Puinave and Curripaco people. At least 470 species of fish and 900 have also been identified. Furthermore, the rivers of Inirida and Atabapo produce nearly 50% of the ornamental fish exported by Colombia.
Estrella Fluvial de Inirida, Guainia
- Estrella Fluvial del Inírida por fin será área protegida (El Espectador)