It happened the way it so often does in Colombia: the government announced a new official appointment and outrage ensued. As the year 2020 drew to a close, the minister of environment, Carlos Correa, himself newly appointed, informed the country via a tweet that the national parks administration would be headed by one Orlando Molano. Molano, an architect with next to no experience in environmental affairs, now directs the government agency that safeguards a network of vital ecosystems across almost 20 million hectares (50 million acres) — around one-sixth of Colombia’s surface area. A group of 66 notables from the academic and conservation sectors signed an open letter to Colombia’s president, Iván Duque, indicating their concern over Molano’s appointment. The least charitable commenters include Gustavo Bolivar, a senator with the progressive Humane Colombia party, who derided Molano as “an environmental predator.” Humberto de la Calle, chief negotiator of Colombia’s 2016 peace agreement with the FARC rebels and perennial presidential candidate, declared that Colombia’s national parks had been “orphaned.” Is the uproar justified? In fact, Molano does have experience in parks, only not the type with canyons, flocks of wildlife, and other feasts of nature. Under Enrique Peñalosa’s last administration as Bogotá’s mayor from 2016 to 2019, Molano was in charge of running the Instituto Distrital de Recreación y Deporte (IDRD), the capital’s parks and recreation department. While in that office, Molano made a name for himself by remodeling 1,387 city parks. He built 60 new ones too, and 165 football…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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