In 1997 TMI conducted an ecological assessment of Andean Paramo, a northern alpine wetlands/grasslands ecosystem in Ecuador and identified the region as an essential watershed. TMI then partnered with Eco Ciencia and University of Amsterdam in 1998 to protect the water regulation functions of this fragile, critical landscape. By creating sustainable development opportunities for mountain communities using these ecosystems, TMI was able to contribute to the conservation of this ecologically crucial region. Since then, the project has expanded to sites in Venezuela, Colombia and Peru.
Local and regional governments as well as the central government of Peru (i.e. Ministry of Environment) increasingly recognize the strategic importance of paramo grassland ecosystems for their unique biodiversity and their very important role in water regulation. Reflecting this growing recognition, TMI signed agreements with the regional government of Piura to identify the paramo areas that need to be protected, and is in the process of signing similar agreements with the Ministry of Environment of Peru. As of 2009, all communities participating in the program have developed Management Plans, including four plans for the communities of Chetilla, Ronquillo (Cajamarca), Pacaypampa, and Ayabaca (Piura).