Over a period of five years an area of forest equivalent to two and a half times the size of Jamaica has been lost in Colombia, largely in regions of coca cultivation, according to a U.S. study, Semana reported Tuesday.
The study was carried out by SUNY Stony Brook professor Dr. Liliana M. Davalos and colleagues between 2002-2007. The report summarized on the Stony Brook website, found that “The pace of deforestation in Colombia has accelerated over the past 20 years, even as population growth has slowed and the economy has shifted from agriculture to other revenue sources. This increase in deforestation overlaps with an increase in the cultivation of coca for cocaine production.”
Deforestation has been particularly drastic in south and central Colombia. The south alone lost 14,322 square km (5,529 square miles) during the period of the study. Dr. Davalos told Semana: “What we have established is that this relation exists: that when more people migrate is when more deforestation occurs, but this only occurs in the municipalities in which new coca crops are showing up.”
Semana calls the loss of biodiversity that has occurred as a result of deforestation “incalculable and irreplacable.”
The Stony Brook report suggests that establishing a greater number of protected areas could aid in reducing the amount of deforestation.