Through a combination of stunning aerial images, urban landscapes, and feet-in-the-mud perspectives atop Colombia’s mountains, the 22-minute film describes how Bogota’s 8.5 million inhabitants vitally depend on an amazing, unique, and neighboring ecosystem called the páramo, which is threatened by global climate change and land conversion.
Conservation International (CI) joined other winners such as BBC and National Geographic Television at the Grand Teton Awards Gala on Thursday, September 26th, as part of the five-day film festival, considered to be among the top festivals in its genre of films about wildlife and nature. More than 600 filmmakers, scientists, conservationists and other media professionals gathered to celebrate, share and honor films about our natural world.
The film was produced by the Visual Storytelling team at Conservation International as part of the CI + Sony Visual Storytelling Alliance
, an 18-year partnership between CI and Sony to film and showcase some of our planet’s most pressing environmental issues and the natural solutions being developed to support human well being.
The film was shot in 2011 at Chingaza National Park in Colombia, a vital protected area for the country’s capital, Bogotá, and hosted on camera by Sandra Bessudo, Colombia’s High Environmental Advisor to the President. Chingaza is one of the homes to the páramo, a stunning, high-mountain ecosystem that is main part of a natural machine which provides fresh water to Bogotá’s millions of inhabitants.
Located in the northern Andes, at elevations surpassing 10,000 feet, and found primarily in northwest South America, páramo ecosystems feature the highly absorbent, visually stunning plant called the frailejones (Espeletia spp) a genus unique to the páramo ecosystem, that converts mist into water, which ultimately becomes the lake and river system nourishing the city. These plants, Bessudo explains, act like “sponges”, absorbing water from the mist and clouds and channeling it downstream, to rivers and lakes, businesses and people. She takes viewers to the highest peaks of the páramo and explains how this breathtaking, but fragile natural machine works, and why it’s crucial for Bogotá to thrive. Sadly, very few páramos remain, as they are threatened from industrial potato farming, illegal coal mining, and global climate change.
CI’s Senior Director of Visual Storytelling, Peter Stonier, says “It was a breakthrough to be so highly honored at a wildlife festival, when the star of our show is a plant, rather than an animal. I think we won, though, largely because we show how vital this plant is for human survival and because the film helped inform and guide environmental policy in Colombia.”
John Martin, CI’s Director of Production and a native Colombian who was thrilled to return home to document this story, said of its making, “Filming and documenting amazing ecosystems around our planet in order to conserve them is my passion. Colombia’s unique paramos provide so much to so many people, yet they are very undervalued, poorly understood and increasingly threatened. This film raises awareness about the direct connections between people and nature and illustrates why we must protect it.”
The film also explains the importance of conserving important ecosystems like the páramos for the health, security, and prosperity of Colombians. It is just one example of CI’s priority initiatives around the world, which employ innovative approaches to value and protect the remaining critical reservoirs of natural capital, for local, national, and global well-being.
Prior to this award, Field Chronicles: Chingaza – The Water’s Journey, proved extremely useful in Conservation International’s work. The film has been shown to Colombian high-level government officials, playing an integral part in fundraising efforts for the institution and its partners. It has also been screened in public forums in and around Bogotá to inform the people of this valuable fresh water source in their home land.
For more information, contact:
(for English): Becca Field, Conservation International Production Manager: +1-703-341-2831 or firstname.lastname@example.org
(for Espanol): John Martin, Conservation International Director of Production: +1-703-341-2541 or email@example.com
About Conservation International (CI)
– Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, CI empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature, our global biodiversity, for the well-being of people. Founded in 1987, CI is headquartered in the Washington, D.C. area, with a team of more than 800 people in 29 countries on six continents and works with more than 1,000 partners around the world. For more information, please see www.conservation.org
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