Carlos Castaño-Uribe

Carlos Castaño-Uribe, Scientific Director of Herencia Ambiental Foundation, is an anthropologist from the Universidad de Los Andes with doctoral studies in American Anthropology. He has made outstanding contributions to public environmental policy in Colombia and Latin America, having been the director of the National Natural Park System for more than a decade, the director of IDEAM, the director of the Bogotá Environment Secretariat and the vice-minister of the Environment and Sustainable Development, among others. For his projects and research in ecological matters, he was awarded the Drago de Oro Medal of Merit during the World Environment Congress (1989); the Parks Merit International Award from the International Union for Conservation of Nature; and in 1993, he won the Fred Packard, one of the world's leading environmental awards.

Carlos Castaño-Uribe is due to the discovery and protection of the Sierra de Chiribiquete National Park - between Caquetá and Guaviare -, where more than 75,000 rupestrian paints have been found: it is our sixth chapel. Over 30 years, the anthropologist and archaeologist from Bogotà has kept this secret that has the scientific world in awe. It is the biggest discovery in cave painting in the whole archeological world. It is the place where probably the first pictorial murals of America were made. In its territory there are still tribes that have not had contact with the White man.

In the Sierra live the Kogis, Arhuacos, Wiwas and Kankuamos. The first three maintain their culture almost intact and the Western world has not been able to study it clearly. They live in the Indigenous Resguardos. These peoples traditionally spoke languages of the Chibchense linguistic family. The ancestral territory of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is shared by the four indigenous peoples groups.

It is an ancestral territory, since they have inhabited it for thousands of years, becoming a millenary culture and the territory becoming a space for the evolution of life. The special biodiversity of the Sierra Nevada is proof of this. For Arhuacos, Koguis, Wiwas and Kankwamos, the whole of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, from the major lakes and the snowy peaks to the sea on the borders of the Black Line, is sacred territory.

Therefore, for them this territory has been destined from the origin of creation to preserve the balance between men, nature and the universe. This particular knowledge developed from the conception that human beings and nature are inseparable parts of the same universe is what made a millenary culture and the Sierra Nevada a territory rich in biodiversity.