In Colombia, scientists are finding new species in uncharted territory

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Mauricio Diazgranados in Cocuy National Park, Colombia, photographed 2008. Today the botanist oversees the Colombia Bio Programme, a collaboration between Kew Science and partner organizations in the UK and Colombia that documents the country’s biodiversity. Mauricio Diazgranados

Paramo de Chiscas, 4,400 meters (14435 feet) above sea level in Cocuy National Park, photographed 2018. “We were the first botanists ever making scientific plant collections in this paramo,” says Diazgranados. Mauricio Diazgranados/RBG Kew

Paramo de la Rusia, Boyaca, photographed 2019. In the distance are the mountains of the Cordillera Oriental, which contain paramos still to be explored, says Diazgranados. Mauricio Diazgranados/RBG Kew

Diazgranados holds a bromeliad specimen on the program’s latest expedition pre-lockdown in February. Mauricio Diazgranados/RBG Kew

Diazgranados and a group of explorers, photographed in February as part of a two-day expedition to the peak of Aleta de Tiburon (5,135 feet), Serrania de las Quinchas. “We were the first botanists ever making scientific plant collections in this peak,” he says. Mauricio Diazgranados/RBG Kew

A possible new species of tree of the sage family, documented in February at Serrania de las Quinchas, Boyaca. Mauricio Diazgranados/RBG Kew

Botanists Mauricio Diazgranados and Andres Felipe Bohorquez Osorio processing plant specimens in Serrania de las Quinchas, as part of the latest Colombia Bio Programme expedition in February 2020. Mauricio Diazgranados/RBG Kew

Team members collecting a tall palm sample in Serrania de las Quinchas, Boyaca in February. Mauricio Diazgranados/RBG Kew

Sunrise over Cerro de Mahoma, Boyaca, February 2017. “There’s no road access to half of Colombia, and the country still has 53% of its area covered by tropical rainforest. There’s still lots and lots of places totally unexplored,” Diazgranados says. Mauricio Diazgranados/RBG Kew

Diazgranados in 2017 with “an unusual frailejon” found at elevations lower than 2,000 meters (6,562 feet), in Corredor del Sarare, Norte de Santander. Mauricio Diazgranados/RBG Kew

Diazgranados hiking in Pisba National Park, Boyaca in 2009 on an expedition to collect frailejones. Mauricio Diazgranados

Rio Ratoncito, Valle de los Cojines, Cocuy National Park, photographed by Diazgranados in 2008 as part of a 10-day expedition to collect frailejones. Mauricio Diazgranados

Diazgranados in Paramo de Oceta, Boyaca in 2009.”There were constant fights against guerilla groups from FARC in the area, and 12 members of the police from the nearby town of Mongui were deployed so I could continue my botanical expeditions in the area,” he says. Mauricio Diazgranados/RBG Kew





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