Environmental Activists Warn Mining Is Putting Colombia's National Tree in Danger


“Valle de Cocora”, Image via Flickr user Nuria Pascual. Used under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) license.

The wax palm of Quindío is a vulnerable species native to Quindío, Colombia, and is also the country's national tree. The palm is protected by various measures put forth by the Colombian government since it faces many threats.

However, the most recent dangers that the tree is facing are in an area where it should be most protected: a national park.

Mining company in Salento, Quindío, threatens the national tree of Colombia

To date, there are at least three mining concessions pending in the municipality of Salento, Quindío. Some of the areas in question have supposedly been solicited by gold mining company Anglo Gold Ashanti (although their representatives have denied any interest).

This would affect land in Los Nevados National Natural Park, and various areas that are classified as Forest Area, Natural Reserve or Integrated Management District.

It's absurd to replace labor-intensive ecotourism in Salento and Cocora for mega-mining of gold.

Tatiana Herrera Giraldo, representative for the municipality of Salento, created a Change.org petition called “Detengan la megaminería en Salento,” (Stop the mega-mining in Salento), which as of writing has more than 8,000 signatures. The petition is addressed to the National Mining Agency of Colombia and other institutions. It says “Salento, the Cocora Valley, Los Nevados National Natural Park, and our national tree, the wax palm, are at serious risk if mining becomes a reality in Quindío.”

Immoral mining! Thank you @VLADDO @RevistaSemana

In addition to the 10 pending, these are the titles awarded in Salento and Tolima

The palm is not the only species that will be affected:

The wax palm is home to the yellow-eared parrot, endemic and endangered species. No to mega-mining in Salento.

According to a report in newspaper El Espectador, the real danger lies elsewhere. The future exploitation of La Colosa ore deposit, in Cajamarca, Tolima could also represent a threat, since mining activities would affect the basin of the Tochecito river where the most specimens of wax palms, some 600,000 trees, are found.

The possibility that these environmental menaces could come true is mobilizing activists, both on the ground and online. The cause has recently gained visibility on Colombian social media, and the actions in defense of the wax palms are expected to continue:

Tweet: Don't forget tomorrow, support the Salento community with the hashtag #IDefendTheWaxPalm

Image: Large Twitterthon in solidarity with Salento, which is facing the threat of mega-mining. Everyone, tweet using the hashtag #IDefendTheWaxPalm this Monday, 9 May at 7 p.m. You can also show your backing by taking a photo of yourself with a message of support.

We hope for the environment's sake, the prediction in the next tweet never happens:

Perhaps the only way to see the wax palm in the future will be on stamps and banknotes #NoToMega-MiningInSalento


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