Violent crime, drugs and mining: Colombia’s deforestation crisis

Colombian forest

A new study conducted by the University of Queensland, have conducted a study highlighting the reasons for deforestation in Colombia. Contributing factors include; armed conflict, proximity to coca plantations, mining, oil wells and roads.

The study assessing satellite information of forest cover between 2000 and 2015. The findings indicate that conflicts between illegal groups and governmental military forces are the main cause of deforestation in Colombia.

Lead researcher, PHD student Pablo Negret, said his study identifies the reasoning behind the deforestation in Colombia, however complicated it may be.

Negret said: “Many factors interact to increase or decrease deforestation risk, but stable governance can help forest retention.”

“We need clear policy and action to stop the uncontrolled deforestation that has occurred since the official peace treaty between the Colombian Government and FARC was signed in 2016.

“Our research shows that conservation projects need to work in parallel with social projects and substituting illegal coca crops.

“One way to do this is to work with the communities in Indigenous reserves and Afro-Colombian collective lands to reach conservation objectives, while fostering economic activity.”

An international team from UQ, Wildlife Conservation Society, The Nature Conservancy, the Alexander von Humboldt Biological Resources Research Institute and the World Wide Fund for Nature were all involved with the study.

Professor Martine Maron also took part in the study. She believes that in order to save at-risk forest, we must first highlight the reasons for deforestation.

She said: “We must stop the full-scale destruction of the world’s forests if we are to control the biodiversity and climate crisis.

“And by teasing out the complex factors that threaten forests in a country like Colombia, we may be able to find effective solutions for addressing social and environmental ills across the globe…Peace and sustainability make good bedfellows.”

This study could allow policy makers to begin drawing up a plan to begin saving the Colombia’s forest.

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