Land Planning in Sabana of Bogotá, Colombia

The Sabana of Bogotá is an area located in the center of Colombia, on the Eastern Cordillera, in the southern part of the Cundiboyacence Plateau, with an average height of 2,600 metres above sea level. This abundant ecosystem of water sources, tourism, productive activities such as agriculture, mining, livestock, among others, have attracted the world’s eyes in this area of special protection. This situation has not been alien to Colombians since from 1993, the Ministry of the Environment declared the Sabana of Bogotá, its páramos, waters, surrounding valleys, surrounding hills and mountain systems of national ecological interest, with priority given to the agricultural and forestry activities, without excluding the activities of mining.

According to the most recent economic study on the region, the dynamism that has developed in the central part of the department of Cundinamarca, better known as the province Sabana Centro, is amazing. The eleven municipalities that make it up - Chía, Cota, Cajicá, Sopó, Tocancipá, Zipaquirá, Tenjo, Nemocón, Tabio, Cogua and Gachancipá - have seen their building activity shine and the settlement of countless industries. This has generated better revenues to the municipal coffers, invigorated their economies and turned the region into the most competitive department (generates 30.6 percent of PIB).

This conjuncture also generates difficulties. Initially, the government began a process of inter-institutional coordination, in which several ministerial portfolios and agencies of the Colombian state had as their goal to delimit the zone of special protection. Initially, this process generated the issuance of several regulatory decrees that sought the protection of the ecosystem. Therefore, Resolution 222 of 1994 was published. The Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development regulated article 61 of Law 99 of 1993 and established five polygons compatible with mining of construction materials in the Sabana of Bogotá in a corresponding area to 11,304 ha that constitutes 2% of the total area of the Sabana. To make this long story short, there is currently Resolution 2001 of 2016, that determines the areas compatible with mining operations in the Sabana of Bogotá, which is under review by the Administrative Court of the department of Cundinamarca.

This compatibility and incompatibility of construction materials has had an extensive process and been full of different regulatory actions by the National Government (see intertitle). It has been more than 23 years since the standards have changed, which has hindered optimum protection of the environment and, in the same way, the development of the activity of building materials.

In parallel, the demand for these materials is added to the economic and social variables. According to the most recent report of the area of Economic Studies of Asogravas, the areas near the area in question, such as Bogotá, demanded in 2016 about 6.9 million tons. For its part, the department of Cundinamarca required 6.4 million tons to complete its projects; even though we are in the low cycle of constructions at this time, we are expecting to reach at least 30 million tons per year by 2026. These important figures represent a challenge since the sources of construction materials should not be more than 50 kilometers away from the consumption center, as their transport costs and other logistical aspects increase.

In this sense, to avoid the increase in the cost of the aggregates, the most important challenge is to coordinate the mining activities and the protection of the ecosystems that are in the Sabana of Bogotá under clear parameters that include citizen participation, guaranteed respect for the communities, the environment and other productive activities, and seeking sustainable development hand in hand with the development and impulse in infrastructure, housing and building that the region demands.

LEGAL CONTEXT

10 years after the Resolution issued in 194, through Resolution 813 of 2004 the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development redefined areas compatible with mining for construction materials and replaced Resolution 222 of 1994.

Subsequently, Resolution 1197 of 2004 was published, repealing Resolution 813 of 2004 and delimiting 14 polygons compatible with mining of construction materials and clays, which corresponded to 1.63% of the total area of the Sabana, reducing the area established in Resolution 222 of 1994 by 17%.

Here it is important to note that the Council of State, by decision of June 23, 2010, declared null and void Article 1 and its third paragraph of Resolution 1197 of 2004, welcoming again zones compatible with mining in the Sabana of Bogotá, those established in Article 4 of Resolution 222 of 1994.

Subsequently, in 2014, the State Council issued a ruling, within the popular action of the Bogotá River, in which it ordered the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development in coordination with the Ministry of Mines and Energy, to geographically delimit the areas excluded from mining of the Sabana of Bogotá.

In compliance with the above, the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development issued Resolution No. 2001 of 2016, which determined areas compatible with mining operations in the Sabana of Bogotá, the previous year and in force until now, but in review by the Administrative Court of Cundinamarca.

Carlos Fernando Forero
General Director of Asogravas