The guardian of the paramo

His relationship with the Sonsón paramo is like the one of a couple of old friends: they chat, keep each other company and take mutual care.

His name is Luis Alberto Hincapié and the Sonsón paramo is his land and his legacy. For more than fifty years, he has lived there, protecting and listening to it. A factory that transforms fog into water and where, as he says, “the ones above make the push to the ones below so that they get the water.”

 

He blazed the trail to the top and put the cross up there. The mountain told him where to mark the path, kept him safe from its cliffs and taught him to see its hillsides within him. It also led him to a new vocation; Luis Alberto does it all: takes care of chickens, repairs the aqueduct, plants potatoes and, what’s more, plants native trees to ensure the cycle of water in the paramo and, by telling his stories, keeps company with the visitors who come to the mountain intrigued by the frailejones.

 

Thanks to the latter two activities, today he is known as the guardian of the paramo.

The ecosystem responds to his care. During the rainy months, the thristles, the moss and the frailejones collect the water that, drop by drop, they drip during the dry months. That is how they feed the streams of the San Francisco and La Palmita rural areas just outside of Sonsón, which supply the homes of Luis Alberto and his neighbors, and nurture life on the mountain.

 

“I am grateful to the paramo for the way it serves human beings with what it cultivates itself,” he says.

Luis Alberto is one of almost five hundred conservation partners supported by Grupo Nutresa in Colombia through its alliance with Masbosques, within the framework of the BancO2 strategy. This initiative is focused on improving the living conditions of people who protect and restore ecosystems. Every month, Luis Alberto receives an economic compensation that he allocates to essential household products. “I use the money I earn by doing this for sustaining my home,” he points out. It is an incentive that will help him to fulfill his goal of protecting the paramo.

 

“Grupo Nutresa is helping the neighbors of the paramo who commit to plant more trees and take good care of it. I use the money I earn by doing this for sustaining my home, for improving my living conditions. It is an important work, what they are doing by helping the paramo neighbors.”

“This project of planting native trees is like a son to me, it is a thing of beauty. The water springs are being protected, and we need to keep planting trees so that they become bigger streams for us human beings, because we can’t live without water”.

Luis Alberto Hincapié, caretaker of the Sonsón paramo.