Rivers of the Protecting Sources of Drinking Water for Millions

In the , rivers carve the of nations. They nourish 50 million people and 20 percent of all plant and animal species on . From to , great and tiny villages cling to them for food, water, transportation and electricity. Across , , and northern , ribbons of freshwater bind nature and people together, the health of each dependent upon the other.

The health of Andean rivers is fading fast. Pollution, oil and overfishing threaten Gabriel García Márquez’s beloved in Colombia. The , rushing across Colombia and Venezuela with the world’s fourth- largest water flow, is contaminated by run-off and silting from unsustainable ranching, and agricultural practices, endangering dwindling populations of Orinoco crocodiles and pink river dolphins. Meanwhile, rivers of the unique Andean dry forests sustain a burgeoning human population but are filtered by wood - lands reduced to just two percent of their original size. San Rafael waterfall in - Ecological Reserve in Ecuador © Gregory Miller/TNC

Protecting Entire Rivers River. That’s why the Conservancy water funds Despite the importance of these is working at a systemic level with rivers, previous efforts to conserve federal governments, major corpora - Eighty percent of the drinking water them have targeted only terrestrial tions, utility companies, ranching for ’s two million citizens issues areas. The Conservancy wants to do and fishing associations, the World from rivers high in Ecuador’s more. We want to protect the rivers Bank, the Agency Bioreserve. To finance conservation of these rivers, the Conservancy themselves, from streams for International Development helped establish the Quito water to coastal deltas. Focusing our work (USAID) and the Inter-American fund, FONAG, investing a mere on these key arteries will address the Development Bank. The Conservancy , $1,000. Since 2000, FONAG has most urgent threats and yield the with 30 years of freshwater conserva - leveraged $5 million from Quito’s most wide-ranging benefits. tion success and the international water and electric companies and a reputation to bring major players to local manufacturer—all major water users whose profits depend Andean watersheds are so massive the table, is the only environmental on freshwater. The money raised that protecting isolated pockets isn’t organization poised to act at this through the fund is then channeled enough: at 1,500 miles, the Orinoco unprecedented scale. into protecting and reforesting major alone is as long as the Colorado rivers in the Bioreserve. Andean rivers breed rich habitat, supporting rare species like the manatee and the . Driven to the brink of extinction by demand for its beau - tiful hide, the crocodile is struggling to recover. With now banned, its future hinges on the availability of habitat and clean water.

By engaging with the people who private construction companies water funds over the next three determine the fate of the ’s so that ecological preservation years in key Andean watersheds. water, we can identify and protect becomes an important factor We will then seek to implement a areas that are the most biologically guiding the placement and building Blue Water Certification Program, rich and vital to human well-being— of dams, , highways, oil refineries attracting worldwide recognition areas that provide freshwater, food, and other major infrastructure. By for cities like Quito that are on the medicine, shelter and livelihoods and informing large development projects, forefront of freshwater conservation. buffer human communities from the Conservancy can make a differ - Because of FONAG’s success, the natural disasters. ence in freshwater ecosystems, Conservancy is already looking from glacial streams to the shores to replicate this model in cities Guided by Science of the Caribbean and Pacific where across the globe. Conservation of Andean rivers mangrove forests, estuaries and has been hampered by a lack of coastal lagoons teem with plant, Moving Forward scientific knowledge. By mapping bird, and aquatic life. To safeguard freshwater in the and quantifying river flows, studying tropical Andes, we must catalyze pollution and sedimentation rates and To help finance freshwater conserva - fundamental changes, working across evaluating municipal water uses, the tion, the Conservancy plans to repli - national boundaries wherever Andean Conservancy is generating a scientific cate the highly successful water fund rivers flow. The Nature Conservancy blueprint that will guide the conser - that we helped create in Quito, has the ingenuity and influence to vation of 2.5 million acres of private Ecuador. The Quito Water Fund, or do just that. With your support, we and public protected areas. FONAG, has generated more than $5 can ensure that clean water winds million for watershed conservation in through the to the We will share our new data with the Ecuadorian Andes, and we are for years to come, sustaining people governments, trade associations and helping establish an additional six and nature along the way.

Lakes and Rivers of the World 4245 N. Fairfax Dr., Ste. 100 Arlington, VA 22203 Phone: (703) 841-5300 nature.org

06/08 Orinoco crocodile © Jay Pruett/TNC