A leading biologist has developed a unique use for Colombia’s traditional vallenato music, using it to encourage understanding and appreciation of his country’s rich biodiversity.
Alvaro Cogello, thought to be Colombia’s leading field botanist, has combined his expert knowledge of the country’s plants and a fascination with folklore to inspire an interest in the Colombian people for their country’s biodiversity.
Cogello focuses particularly on teaching the importance of environmental conservation across social classes, using the shared musical heritage of vallenato music to achieve this.
Rather than intimidating them with science, Cogello uses the many plant references found in classic vallenato songs to introduce the country’s biodiversity to people.
Cogello has spent a lifetime compiling a thorough inventory of Colombia’s flora, traveling around the country to document its rich botanical heritage. He now educates the public about alternative uses for the land, and for the country’s plants as food, pharmaceuticals, and sustainable bio-fuels.
Though sustainability and environmental issues have never been a priority in Colombia, with the armed conflict sapping all attention and resources, Cogello insists that a focus on conservation could help Colombia to improve its economy and the quality of life of its people.
Cogello’s desire to use biodiversity as a means of uniting the Colombian people across social divides is most impressively seen in Medellin’s Botanical Garden.
Since being appointed its scientific director, Cogello has turned what was a neglected botanical garden into the green centerpiece of the city; a renowned center for research, environmental education, and community gatherings.