March 4, 2021

Military reforested with frailejones a páramo of southwestern Colombia

A group of soldiers of the High Mountain Battalion Number 10 of the Colombian Army reforest the forests of Páramo de Barragán, located in the southwest of the country, by planting frailejones, an indigenous plant of the region and key to protect the water.

This initiative is carried out from April 1, 2017 and covers an area of ​​1,854 hectares of the páramo, which is part of the rural area of ​​the municipality of Tuluá, in the department of Valle del Cauca, in order to recover the sources water resources of that ecosystem.

"The work began because the páramos were already scarce of that important water source such as the frailejones, which are the ones that give water not only to the inhabitants of the region but to the whole of humanity," he told Efe. Lieutenant Colonel Néstor Gildardo Prieto, commander of the battalion.

For the past two years, this military unit has devoted a large part of its operations to the preservation, conservation, control and care of the environment of that Colombian region.

However, this was not always the case since in the Páramo de Barragan, the 21st front of the already disarmed FARC guerrillas operated.

Now, after signing the peace agreement with the Colombian government in November 2016, there is only the presence of "common delinquency" groups in the area, the spokesperson said.

The frailejón is an autochthonous plant of the páramos of Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela, that grows an inch every year and that absorbs the water through the leaves that it has in its superior part and that it releases in times of drought.

Because of its importance in the páramo, this plant is an emblem in the three Andean countries, to the point that it appears in the coins of 100 Colombian pesos minted from 2012.

To date, the military has planted 150 frailejones in that wasteland, in which there is a research center for the plant and the command post of the battalion.

"When I was in the area, at the beginning of my military career, I did not understand the importance of the frailejón because I lacked education in the environment," said Sergeant Sergio Andrés Luna Muñoz, who leads the research center where The plant is sown.

Upon arrival in the area, the military not only carried out "offensive operations, registration and control of the area, but also guaranteeing the safety of the population," Luna said.

To this, the work in favor of the environment is currently added, with which the Army seeks to fulfill what the Colombian Constitution says about "the State being the guarantor" of nature.

Therefore, Luna's perception of the plant changed after participating in the initiative and today she understands that "frailejón is life" because of its importance in absorbing and releasing water.

Next July 30 there will be a "siembratón" in the páramo where the battalion next to the National Service of Learning (SENA) will inaugurate a monument to the plant in a park in the area and with which they want to show that " when a frailejón is cut, the water, the land and the humanity are taken away from the region. "

(tagsToTranslate) Military (t) reforestan (t) frailejones (t) southwest (t) Colombia

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