Valle del Cauca is where the jungle foothills of the Andes splash into the piercing green basin of the Cauca River. It is a captivating landscape.
The land here is the most fertile in the entire Colombia. And because the climate is different by the ocean and in the mountains, the list of crops that are cultivated here can go on forever. Biodiversity of the place is mind-blowing as well, it is even higher than in the Amazonian region of the country.
Cauca Valley is also rich in coal, iron, gold and marble and has well developed paper and cement industries. It used to be a battle-ground during the Civil War. Now, it is the most steadily growing economy in Colombia. Most of the development, around 70%, is powered by hydroelectric energy.
Clearly, sustainable water and land use are paramount for the prosperity of the Cauca Valley. And that is where the geography blessing plays its trick: unsustainable environmental practices upstream in the hills can mess up the entire valley. What is more, the cloud forests here collect a lot of moisture that travels elsewhere, coming down as rainfall. So, deforestation in the Cauca Valley has implications for the global climate.
Both options are unwished for, but this is exactly what happened: farmers in the hills were clearing the forest for agriculture, using intensive farming methods.