Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

Price of peace: deforestation in Colombia

Price of peace: deforestation in Colombia Matt Zimmerman
29 Aug
2017
The historic end of civil war in Colombia has had unforeseen consequences for the country’s natural environment, particularly the Amazon rainforest

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has rarely ever been credited with positive environmental outcomes, intentional or otherwise. But the previously long-standing presence of the rebel guerrilla group in many rural parts of the country appears to have had one constructive ecological impact: significantly limiting deforestation, particularly in provinces in and around the delicate Amazon region, such as Caquetá and Meta.

The country’s Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies (IDEAM) recently announced that deforestation rates have rapidly escalated since the signing of a peace deal between FARC and the Colombian government last year that finally ended more than 50 years of conflict. Around 178,597 hectares (690 sq miles) of forest was cleared in 2016, 44 per cent more than in the previous year. Post-conflict Colombia is witnessing opportunistic loggers entering territories where fear of FARC kept them away for decades, and converting them into sites for large-scale agriculture and cattle ranching, road infrastructure projects, or illegal mining.

It’s unwelcome news for a nation which pledged in 2015, through the UN’s REDD+ scheme (with donations totalling $300million from Germany, Norway and the UK), to bring its Amazon deforestation rate down to zero by 2020. Deforestation and forest degradation forms the country’s largest source of greenhouse emissions, half of the national total. Omar Franco, director of IDEAM, recently announced that the latest figures represented a ‘trend that we cannot allow to increase’ and insisted that the government’s onwards strategy – involving supporting local and indigenous communities and utilising environmental zoning to promote conservation – will ultimately make it possible to achieve that goal.

This was published in the September 2017 edition of Geographical magazine.

Related items

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in PLACES...

Places

Writer and photographer John Gilbey needed a cheap way of…

Water

An EU project has revealed the extent of river fragmentation…

Mapping

A new, double-sided world map projection seeks to minimise the…

Water

 Water scarcity is predicted to rise – two experts share…

Mountains

New collaborative research from the University of Oxford and the…

Places

Conceived during the late 1800s, Letchworth Garden City was the…

Places

Multiple failed attempts to build on a patch of land…

Deserts

New 'deep learning' technology is helping to identify trees in…

Places

The land around the Kinabatangan River in the state of…

Places

Highlights from the column that keeps you connected with the…

Places

At the end of a perplexing and thought-provoking year, we…

Places

The city of Mosul is slowly putting itself back together…

Places

The story of a unique Italo-Slovenian community that came to…

Places

Bisecting Georgia's northwestern region, the Enguri River has come to…

Forests

A study in Northern Minnesota is experimentally heating the air…

Places

Some of the quirkiest geopolitical oddities are  Europe’s semi-independent microstates (SIMs). Vitali…

Places

Ninety years after depopulation, the Scottish islands of St Kilda…

Mapping

Not all passports are created equal

Forests

The impacts of deforestation are wide ranging. But while some…