Deforestation continues to increase in Colombia


Colombia continues to lose its forests. Preventive measures against deforestation have not reached a steadily increasing trend. The Ministry of the Environment published a bulletin this week indicating that in 2021 174,103 hectares were deforested, which represents an increase from the 171,685 lost in 2020. The document points out that the main causes of this phenomenon are the illegal appropriation of land, the extensive breeding of cattle, the unplanned expansion of road infrastructure and, finally , crops for illicit use.

The Foundation for Conservation and Sustainable Development (FCDS) also published the report “Monitoring forest loss and cover change in the arc of deforestation in the Colombian Amazon”, documenting the period from April 2021 to March 2022. At that time, from a monitored area of ​​11,009,025 hectares in forests, they lost 113,572 hectares.

The foundation and the Ministry of the Environment agree that more than 9,000 hectares have been deforested in indigenous reserves. This entails different risks, not only due to the loss of forests, but also for the indigenous population, generating in many cases forced displacements or loss of biodiversity. San Vicente del Caguán, La Macarena, Cartagena del Chairá and San José del Guaviare are the areas where most of the forests have disappeared and, according to the FDCS, the trend may even increase so far this year in these places.

Official bulletin on deforestation

The delay in the publication of the official bulletin on deforestation had aroused the concern of several environmental experts, who called for a real commitment to fight against this phenomenon which continues to grow. In it, despite the increase, it is pointed out that the outgoing government of Iván Duque “closes its management by breaking the upward curve of deforestation”.

Rodrigo Botero, from the FCDS leadership, refutes this optimism. “What we have today is an upward and permanent process of deforestation at the top of the curve”. He even points out that the country has gone through one of its worst summers. “Only the forest fires in the Amazon region have been the most complex period of the last 10 years. We have a growing and worrying trend”.

The report, the latest from the current government, which has made curbing deforestation one of its objectives, discusses initiatives that have been strongly questioned. Like Operation Artemisa, where serious human rights violations by the army were denounced. And the planting of 180 million trees, of which more than 38 million trees are still needed to reach the goal and whose real impact has not been measured. “It is not a measure that aims to stop deforestation or to compensate for it”says Botero, who sees it more as a complementary and educational measure.

Actions to deal with this problem

For him, the most necessary actions to deal with deforestation should aim to allocate land with standing forests to local communities, decree a binding agricultural border and, in a transversal way, a rigorous control of the investment resources of the forest. ‘State.

Botero emphasizes that efforts should not be directed against the weakest part of the chain, but rather “financial and judicial intelligence operations that find the structures that, both in the governmental part and in the international financial mechanisms, intervene to generate this process of hoarding, which is the fundamental mother of deforestation in Colombia”.

Faced with this landscape in flames, the new government of Gustavo Petro will take office on August 7. Susana Muhamad, from the Ministry of the Environment, will have the task of dealing with this phenomenon, exacerbated by the worsening of the war and which requires alliances and regional political will.


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