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The Cerros, City Catalysers

Diana Wiesner Ceballos
Architect, founder and Director of the Fundación Cerros de Bogotá

I am an observer living in a mountain tropical megacity - Bogota, which is 2,600 metres above sea level, a characteristic shared by very few cities around the world. Its cerros, or the hills of its mountain reserve, have become catalysts of the landscape and have created social transformations that provide greater encouragement than the inaugurations of infrastructures, as they fulfil a greater objective: to engender and multiply the spiritual value of the landscape.

For the last eleven years, I have been part of a group of people represented by the Bogotá Mountain Reserve Foundation, which supports the aim of strengthening a corridor for public use and for the integration of social and ecological processes in the area between the city and the large forest reserve of the Oriental Hills of Bogotá. This plan has been consolidated with the City Limit Pact, which was considered from its inception as a large living plan for regenerative planning that sought to inclusively restore biodiversity as a strategy for social development and territorial appropriation by the local communities.

With respect to the local government, taking up this initiative would involve a new form of governance, one that would coordinate with public initiatives in accordance with the aims of the City Limit Pact, by integrating security and coexistence programmes, productive activities and ecological and civic cultures. Historically, the management of the cerros has been shared among public organisations due to the national character of the reserve and the pressure of the urban growth from the capital. In order to solve these administrative problems, the idea of designating a single administrative/management entity, together with the representation of the responsible public organisations, mixed or private organizations and representatives from public organizations experienced in the matter, still remains.

Since then, while giving the cerros a political priority, the foundation promotes the recognition and the evaluation of the Oriental Hills of Bogotá as a public ecological and cultural heritage through the application of three strategies: the first, with public accords that seek to integrate the initiatives in terms of sustainable management, programmes of environmental, cultural and associative education, and by cooperative networks. The second, the Ecological Strategy, seeks to implement actions for conservation, preservation and sustainable use, within the framework of inclusive and participatory practices that contribute to the consolidation and connectivity of the ring corridors and hillside and, finally, the Spatial Strategy, which aims to achieve the consolidation of a continuous, connected and coordinated area, one that integrates the network of ecoregions and existing roads in a permeable way into both the city and to the reserve.

Its work has focused on consolidating the large-scale City Limit Pact with interested actors, who are mainly children and young people, by creating a network of more than eighty private and public schools and a network of mountain universities to implement public actions and listen to, gather and create a consensus about the visions of the city and its landscape.

Strategies have revealed visible results in terms of changes in behaviour from public initiatives, by promoting human relationships, ethical and humanitarian feelings and ecological values.

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