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COLOMBIA’S HIGHEST COURT BANS MINING AND OIL EXTRACTION IN THE ANDES

02/22/2016

Colombia banned mining and oil companies from extracting resources from the Andes. This decision follows a lawsuit against the Colombian National Development Plan, which allowed for extractive activities in the moorlands. When the National Development Plan passed, more than 71,000 people joined campaigns to protest the law. The recent court decision cancels 473 preexisting mining titles for the moorlands. In effect, this means that even the mining companies that have environmental licenses and their paperwork in order will not be able to conduct mining explorations. The court’s justification was that the right to a healthy environment supersedes “the rights granted by environmental licenses.” The next step is for the Ministry of the Environment and the Colombian government to apply the decision of the court immediately. Colombia has the largest moorland in the world and the largest extension of moorlands globally, 50% of the world's total. The Colombian Sumapaz Moorlands are an important water source in Colombia as well as a habitat for the condor, endangered speckled bear, the jaguar, and the moorland wolf. Additionally, the moorlands encompass the point of origin for Colombia’s main rivers. The decision is timely given that the country is currently experiencing one of the worst droughts in history. For the full story, see http://news.mongabay.com/2016/02/colombia-bans-mining-in-its-moorlands/