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VOICES AND LESSONS FROM THE ARCHIPELAGO

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A coral reef barrier is a “natural wall” making extreme events less devastating. The photo shows an aerial view of the wave-breaking coral reef in Sound Bay. Photo: Julián Prato Valderrama.

Coral reefs and mangroves help protect against hurricanes and tsunamis

Identifying the San Andrés coral reef as a structure capable of dissipating more than 95% of the wave energy, favors the idea of supporting reef restoration projects. This would warrant a “stronger” beach system, less eroded, and with the capacity of providing food safety for islanders.

A masked Hamlet (Hypoplectrus providencianus, Serranidae). Photo: Alfredo Abril-Howard

The marine biodiversity of Providencia Island, an unfading treasure

Old Providence is a magnificent jewel of the center-western area of the Caribbean Sea and hosts immeasurable biodiversity. This spectacular display of life remained hidden from scientific knowledge for years, up until 1938 –before WWII– when it was visited by a Presidential cruise ship, an American expedition headed by the U.S. President of the time, Theodore Roosevelt.

Photo: Ernesto Mancera

The Ubuntu for rebuilding the Island of Providencia

Rebuilding a society after earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, landslides, tornados, floods or fire would seem to be a neutral intervention, but on occasion, it turns into a strategic intentional geopolitical device. The international experiences claim that rebuilding is not a task solely for the government and its institutions, international cooperation, or local or global philanthropy.

Category 5 Hurricane Iota impacted the Archipelago causing devastation in Providencia.  Photo: Adriana Santos-Martínez

Risk management lessons for the Archipelago

It is clear today that disasters are not only the natural phenomenon by themselves but the progressive impact of multiple threats of social, natural, and health origin. They are the result of accumulated impacts and a gradual decrease of the response capability and recovery of a community.

Photo: Brigitte Gavio

Seagrasses and hurricanes: strategic ecosystems for the present and the future

Seagrasses are strategic ecosystems that provide several services for the welfare of coastal communities, including, stabilizing sediments, promoting sedimentation and therefore preventing coastal erosion; improving water quality, being primary producers of high growth rates; providing habitat and haven for many animals such as the Queen conch, great carbon sinks and are also part of organisms that store “blue carbon.”

Pesca artesanal y recursos pesqueros: peces y langostas de la Isla de Providencia. Foto: Adriana Santos-Martínez.

The sustainable challenge to manage artisanal fishing on the Seaflower Biosphere Reserve

The collapse of the marine fishing resources is a world issue that is due to several causes, especially anthropic, such as the increase of the fishing effort; river and ocean pollution, and the breakdown and loss of essential habitats and ecosystems on which fishing depends, among others.

The vegetation of the Archipelago is a secondary forest with elements of rain and dry transitional forests which are a rich blend of the plant life of Central America and the Antilles. Crédito: Unimedios.

The Botanical Garden of San Andrés, biodiversity reservoir of the Archipelago

With the decision of providing one of the land plots purchased by the Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) on the island of San Andrés for establishing a Botanical Garden, the area turned into an important biodiversity reservoir of the Archipelago. This land is located in the area of Harmony Hall Hill, on the road that goes to La Loma in the area of San Luis, and has a total area of 9 hectares (22.2 acres) and after 40 years without major intervention, it turned into a preservation sanctuary and germplasm bank for the preservation of local island forest species.

To assess the status of the beaches of the island across time, they used aero-photography and satellite imagery to assess the changes in beach size from 1944 to 2010. Crédito: Adriana Santos-Martínez.

Sandy beaches: Natural based capital for the socio-economic development of San Andrés Island

Beaches are coastal ecosystems from where society critical ecosystem services (ES) may be obtained, and which translate into welfare, social, economic, and cultural development1. These sandy beaches are habitats for multiple species of ecological and economic importance; they provide genetic resources; capture and retain sediments and; contribute to mitigating coastal erosion processes.

Adult females of Crypticerya multicicatrices on a Rosa chinensis plant. Crédito: Rafael Mora Betancur - Jardín Botánico.

The opportune follow-up of the multicicatrices fluted scale in San Andrés Island

The multicicatrices fluted scale (Crypticerya multicicatrices) is a species of leaf, stalk, and fruit sap-sucking insect, described for the first time en 2009 by Kondo and Unruh, based on samples from the Provinces of Antioquia, Tolima, and Valle del Cauca. However, after only about a year of being described, it was reported as a pest on the Island of San Andrés, where people think it arrived from infested ornamental plants sent from continental Colombia in 2010.

Signatura mp-panamá-37 reference code es.41091.agi/1.16418.20. Date 1617.

The history of the islands and how to maintain their culture

In 1996, when the UNal rector Guillermo Páramo appointed me as the Director of the Institute of Caribbean Studies in San Andrés, I already had the experience of having contributed to the Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) Amazonia Campus (former Leticia campus) and in the design of its installations.

Crédito: Guillermo Guarin - Jardín Botánico.

For the growth of the Arthropod collection of the Botanical Garden of San Andrés Island

A biological collection is not only an accumulation and confinement of specimens with data of determined locations but also evidence of the existence of individuals in certain times in history; they are parts of the biological puzzle that keeps unsolved secrets and mysteries in most cases.

With their diversity, yards turned into important meeting areas for islanders and also–learning this value from the former– for those who arrived. Photo: Laura Rivera

From the yard outwards: forms of living this space on the Island of San Andrés

The Archipelago de San Andrés, Providencia, and Santa Catalina is an island of convergences: raizals, islanders, and people that were born outside of the insular region live on the islands, although each has their specificities, for instance in demographic configuration or language use. Each one of the population groups is heterogeneous and cross-sectional to them there are a series of social markers that make the islands a scenario full of nuances, where it is crucial to understand the impacts of issues such as narcotrafficking and food sovereignty, among others.

Crédito: Adriana Santos-Martínez

Rebuilding of the Archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia, and Santa Catalina from the ethnographic perspective

More than 16 years ago, thanks to the support of the Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) Caribbean campus, as well as other raizal leaders, I began practicing what I had learned from several years during my professional Anthropology studies. During this fieldwork, I used ethnography as a means to try to understand the claims of raizal self-determination from the perspective of its own actors.

Crédito: Clara Eugenia Sánchez Gama.

Architectural review ad portas of rebuilding

In August of 2000, the Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) Caribbean campus (formerly San Andrés campus) was summoned to participate in the Insular Forum “2001-2010 Basis for a National Culture Plan,” sponsored by the Colombian Ministry of Culture and the Provincial Cultural Mixed Fund. As a product of this event, they proposed the research project entitled, “Cultural architectural heritage of San Andrés,” which began by performing an inventory of the architectonic heritage assets of the Island of San Andrés.