Colombia’s iconic coffee farming communities are being threatened by mining, urbanization and sex tourism, a study group said on Monday.
In an interview with newspaper El Colombiano, scholars of the Manizales branch of the National University expressed their dismay at developments that could drastically affect their region’s way of life.
University investigator Fabio Rincon told the newspaper that among the chief concerns that exists for the coffee farming community is the trend of open pit mining.
“Extraction of building material is not a big problem, but open pit mining is an issue,” said the researches who claimed open-pit mining would seriously affect the beauty of the iconic region.
Additionally, “there are also growing social problems: there has been a very large trend of rural-urban migration resulting in a aging population. We are also aware that there are major problems with child sex-trafficking caused by sex tourism,” said Rincon.
He went on to say that “an alternative is socially and ecologically responsible tourism, something that encourages people to see the landscape. There have arrangements in Alto de la Mina where farmers have created community tourism that benefits the entire area, creating a range of jobs for young people.”
Open pit mining has a greater impact on landscape than excavation mining by its very nature. It drastically affects the way a landscape appears as all minerals or products are removed from an open pit or borrow.
Six areas of “coffee farming culture” in the Antioquia department have been declared as UNESCO world heritage sites for meeting the required criteria of “continued land use” and for being a national symbol of Colombian culture.
UNESCO describes the integrity of the region as being due to ” the continuity of traditional small plot coffee farming, often run in family units, and the strong linkages to the associated cultural traditions.” It goes on to add that the integrity would be endangered by the presence of “gold mining activities.”
The UNESCO committee dedicated to the region had requested a map of mining activity in the area and has been worried by what it has seen. While some mines are already in operation others are in the process of being “scouted” by companies.