Global Insights: Colombia

By Marcelo Kawanami

Tota Landscape

Our trip around the main water resources in the globe and their current situation continues. Today we will explore Lake Tota in the beautiful Colombia, a country that is emerging as an economic power in Latin America. Lake Tota is the largest lake in Colombia and it is located in the department of Boyacá. A vital water source for the country, the lake is key to the tourism and also the ecosystem of the country. The iconic Lake Tota is the habitat for local wildlife, including several threatened or endangered bird species. Additionally, many cities surrounding the lake rely on this water resource for consumption and agriculture.

Nevertheless, the same agriculture that relies on the lake is also destroying it. The department of Boyacá, where the lake is located, is one of the main producers of onion in the region. The pesticides and fertilizers used in the cultivation of onions are strongly polluting the lake.

Many organizations are fighting for the lake’s protection, which recently gained global headlines but not for positive reasons.  I attached a video from BBC talking about the lake.

One of the main organizations that is focused in the social-environmental balance of the lake is Fundación Montecito (http://www.fundacionmontecito.org/). I strongly recommend everyone to visit their website and check out their projects and actions.

Summer Camp 2013!

By Marcelo Kawanami

This week I decided to take a break on our global journey to write about Gamiing’s Summer Camp 2013! The four weeks summer camp prepared by Gamiing’s team is over and we are all very happy with the results from this year’s camp.

Gamiing Nature Centre property - great infrastructure and natural space for fun and education

Like in the previous years, kids were able to enjoy the nature throughout Gamiing’s property through the many activities tailored for them, which included swimming, canoeing, crafting, and trails. All activities were specially developed, allowing a great interaction between the kids and the nature.

Matts Reptiles - great way to learn how to interact with them and their importance in our ecosystem

This year, camp leaders also prepared new games for the kids.The Trail Bingo was a success and we had a very special day when Matt brought his reptiles and amphibians for the kids to learn more about them. This was a great opportunity for the kids to learn more about these animals and why they are important to our ecosystem.

Once again Gamiing’s Summer Camp achieved its goal by combining education with great fun through activities that included direct contact with nature and that deposited a sense of environmental responsibility in the minds of the children who will be the future leaders of our world.

We hope to see you all next year at Gamiing’s Summer Camp 2014!

Global Insights: Nicaragua

By Marcelo Kawanami

This week we land in Central America. In 2007 I had the great privilege of visiting Nicaragua, the largest country in Central America. Still unexplored in comparison to its neighboring countries, Nicaragua has a natural landscape composed by volcanoes and lakes. The two main lakes are Lake Nicaragua, which is the largest in Central America, and Lake Managua, also known as Lake Xolotlan. Both lakes are the largest bodies of fresh water in the region.

Nicaragua’s lakes are also known for its unique biodiversity. For example, Lake Nicaragua, despite being a freshwater lake, has sawfish, tarpon, and sharks! Initially, scientists thought the sharks in the lake belonged to an endemic species, the Lake Nicaragua Shark (Carcharhinus nicaraguensis). In 1961, following comparisons of specimens, the Lake Nicaragua Shark was synonymized with the widespread bull shark, a species also known for entering freshwater elsewhere around the world.

Both lakes are extremely important for the local and regional ecosystem. Nevertheless, the lakes have been severely polluted, mostly by decades of sewage being dumped into them. Lake Managua is the most critical one, where Nicaragua’s capital, also name Managua, lies on in its southwestern shore. Many communities rely on the fishing sources of the lake in order to survive.

Organizations focused on the preservation of lake shores from around the globe have turned their attention into Lake Managua. The video above explains the importance of the lake and one of the greatest projects implemented in the country in order to clean Lake Managua. The implementation of the water treatment plant was a big kick-off for cleaning up this natural resource.

Despite intensive cleaning campaigns and projects, the lake still need a lot of improvement. Below you can find some local organizations that fight for the protection of the environment and, above all, try to integrate communities into the local ecosystem:

• Adic: http://www.adicnicaragua.org/
• Fundenic: http://www.fundenic.org.ni/

Global Insights: Bolivia

By Marcelo Kawanami

Lake Titicaca

Our journey continues in South America! This week I’ll talk about a country which has the highest navigable lake in the world. Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in South America. Nevertheless, the country is rich in culture and history, being the ancient settlement of the Incas.

 

The Lake Titicaca, located in the border between Bolivia and Peru, is the largest lake in South America and it is often called the highest navigable lake in the world, with a surface elevation of 3,812 m (12,507 ft).

The lake serves as the base for a rich local ecosystem that is composed by a diverse fauna and flora. Additionally, small communities have based themselves in the borders of the lake and islands made of floating reeds. These villages and islands became a very popular touristic attraction leveraging the local economy and art.

Bolivian Andes seen across Lake Titicaca

Unfortunately, this incredible natural beauty is under threat. Mining works are currently being explored in some areas of the lake. To make things worse, the mining exploration resulted in growing urbanization, which is polluting and contaminating the lake. Just to have an idea, about 80% of homes in El Alto (a city nearby Lake Titicaca) have access to potable water, but just 50% of its businesses and homes are connected to sewers that lead to the city’s one wastewater treatment plant. The rest of the wastewater is piped directly into rivers and lakes.

Trópico is a local organization the fights for the protection of Lake Titicaca in order to preserve its ecosystem and the local communities that rely on it. In their website (http://www.tropico.org/) they have a detailed virtual map for tourists that are interested in exploring and knowing better the beauties of the region.