BOGOTA – Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos hailed on Sunday the decision by the UN Educational, Scientific, and Educational Organization (UNESCO) to include the Andean nation’s Chiribiquete National Park in the list of World Heritage Sites.
“Great news for Colombia! UNESCO has named Chiribiquete a natural and cultural World Heritage Site,” Santos wrote on Twitter.
The president noted that he was set on Monday to visit Cerro Azul in the Lindosa mountain range, near the park.
Santos will formalize the expansion of the protected area by nearly 1.5 million hectares (3.7 million acres) to almost 4.3 million hectares (10.6 million acres).
The expansion of the park s meant to conserve the region’s biodiversity as well as mitigate the effects of climate change to ensure a reliable water supply for indigenous farming communities in the Orinoco and Amazon river basins.
Chiribiquete is home to the world’s largest number of cave paintings, with 50 panels averaging 7 meters (23 feet) in height and more than 75,000 individual paintings dating back upwards of 20,000 years.