Regional workshop on watershed management and restoration in the Andes – Quito, January 23-27 2012
FONAG, the organization that protects the watersheds that supply water for the city of Quito, hosted a workshop with the participation and coordination of the international program of the US Forest Service. The workshop focused on monitoring mechanisms of the variability of water sources and the general health of watersheds. Most of the participants represented similar initiatives to FONAG from the countries in the region (Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Colombia). EDGES’s member Cecilia was invited to present her experience with participatory monitoring of precipitation and stream flow, and her findings about the effect of wetlands and land use on water availability for downstream communities. There is interest in cooperation with the regional initiative for hydrological monitoring coordinated through CONDESAN. Two field trips were made to paramo (high elevation humid ecosystem) watersheds down-stream of the Antisana glacier, one of them including a visit to the Antisana Hacienda, where Alexander von Humboldt lived during his explorations of the Ecuadorian Andes. One of the most interesting cases presented at the workshop was a successful mechanism of small scale voluntary reciprocal arrangements where downstream farmers are convinced of the benefits of compensating upstream farmers, and where the application of monitoring and modeling of environmental benefits seems superfluous. In these cases, presented at the workshop by Nigel Asquith from Natura Bolivia Foundation, the verification is required only about the commitments made by upstream farmers about areas protected.