More than 120,000 hectares of Colombian land were deforested last year, the majority of which occurred in the Amazon region, according to the Colombian government’s first annual report on deforestation.
Colombia’s Minister of the Environment, Gabriel Vallejo, said that “zones are being deforested because it is a lucrative and profitable business.”
“In the Amazon region it is very easy to deforest the land, and in that sense the control agencies cannot be in all parts of the region,” he added.
The report from the National Forest and Carbon Monitoring System shows that some 57% of the deforestation occurred in the Amazon, while 22% of the affected land was in the Andean region.
Among the necessary actions to conserve Colombia’s forested regions, the minister said, are the combating illegal mining and logging, the use of agricultural crops, and intentional forest fires.
Vallejo claimed that the rate of deforestation is actually lower than it has been for the last 15 years due to more precise information from better technology and rapid action the authorities have been able to take because of it.
The release of the government report was announced in a press conference and through posts to the ministry’s social media sites.
IDEAM posted a tweet during the briefing with the key statistic: “#DeforestationRate the total loss of forest in 2013 was 120,934 hectares .”
IDEAM’s director tweeted that 67% of the forested land in Colombia is found in the Amazon:
These forested regions are essential for maintaining the country’s water resources.
The government has a plan, known as Vision Amazon, which aims to provide resources for environmental conservation of forest affected by illicit crops. With funding from Norway and Germany and as part of the peace deal being negotiated with the FARC, it is to be implemented if a final agreement is reached with the group.
The goal of the program is to reduce deforestation in the Amazon to zero by 2020.
Colombian environmental institutions and organizations upped their efforts in 2013 to provide more effective protection against deforestation in the country’s Amazon region.
Beginning last year, a collective of environmental organizations backed by the government began measuring deforestation in the Colombian Amazon biannually, as opposed to every five years.
Colombia’s neighbor, Brazil, which contains within its borders more than 60% of South America’s rainforest within its borders, carries out an annual deforestation analysis.
- Colombia revela su primera tasa anual de deforestación (Ministry of the Environment)
- Declaración Ministro de Ambiente y Desarrollo Sostenible, Gabriel Vallejo (Ministry of the Environment)
- Declaración Omar Franco, director del IDEAM (Ministry of the Environment)