The páramo is a high altitude tropical ecosystem found above the timberline in the Northern Andes and Central America. In comparison to other tropical high altitude ecosystems, the páramo's biological diversity is unparalleled and exceeds even the richest ecosystems of New Guinea and Africa.


Of all Latin American countries, Colombia harbors the greatest percentage of páramos. It is in the Northern portion of the Eastern Cordillera of Colombia, namely in the Department of Boyacá, where the diversity of páramo plants peaks.During 2 weeks in February 2012 I participated in a botanical expedition led by Prof. Antoine Cleef  to explore such a megadiverse region, the páramos found in the Parque Nacional Natural El Cocuy  ( Other members of the expedition included Hendrik Hoeck, Guido van Reenen (University of Amsterdam), Santiago Madriñan (Universidad de los Andes) and Alfredo Navas. This expedition was very special to all members because we were able to accompany Prof. Antoine Cleef ( ) to what may be his last visit to his favorite páramo site, which he has been studying since the 1970's. Guided by Antoine's expertise and his passion for the Cocuy's páramo flora ( our expedition was able to:

• set up 6 permanent plots to study the possible effects of climate change upon the super-páramo vegetation

• collect +300 botanical specimens in unexplored super-páramo areas and collect several rare endemic species (Draba, Agrostopoa)

• study vegetation plots in all habitats including the little studied cushion bogs

• extract 2 pollen cores to study the history of the vegetation in the past 500-1000 years.  

Currently we are assisting Dr. Guido van Reenen on the texts for a website to disseminate scientific information about the Cocuy ( and also collaborating with Dr. Santiago Madriñan in preparing a field guide to the super páramo plants of the PNN Cocuy. Our ultimate objective is to declare the PNN Cocuy as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.