There is growing consensus that biodiversity losses resulting from global change profoundly affects ecosystem services and human welfare. However, biodiversity and ecosystem processes are commonly monitored independently and on spatiotemporal scales inadequate to inform decision-making. The high Andean ecosystems of Colombia, extending from high Andean forests and páramos to glacier ice caps, form dynamic landscapes because of the interaction of climate and land use change in a complex socioeconomic and political context, including new demographic dynamics and policies associated with the peace process and strict regulations for economic activities in the páramos. Moreover, they are part of a global biodiversity hotspot and provide key ecosystem services, including substantial carbon accumulation and water regulation and provision for large rural and urban populations. There is substantial experience in environmental monitoring of Colombia's high mountain ecosystems, including programs addressing biodiversity, carbon stocks, hydrology, glaciers, and land use dynamics. However, a conceptual and institutional framework for integrating these diverse initiatives is required. Here, we present a proposal to promote integrated monitoring of biodiversity and ecosystem services in high mountain ecosystems in Colombia as a contribution to consolidating a national ecosystem monitoring program. We describe the methodology used to design this integrated strategy based on an extensive process of consultation with monitoring experts in the region. Then, we review the state of the art of environmental monitoring in the Colombian High Andes. Based on the experience accumulated, we propose a multiscale conceptual framework for analyzing drivers of change and response variables from the local to the national scale, emphasizing the importance of monitoring along altitudinal, land use, and ecosystem restoration gradients. Finally, we describe the expected outcomes and possible institutional arrangements for the strategy, as well as some key next steps for promoting its implementation.
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