Agriculture Minister Juan Camilo Restrepo Salazar has raised alerts regarding the exploitation of Colombia’s natural forests and the risk of possible conflicts between the farming and mining sector.
“Each year they take out a quantity of wood from the country’s forest reserves equivalent in hectares to all of that which has been planted in industrial and commercial reforestation. The illegal extraction of wood is one of the most delicate environmental problems that Colombia has. We have to open our eyes to this problem,” said the minister.
The annual pace of illegal deforestation is more than 850,000 acres (350,000 hectares), which according to Restrepo Salazar is equivalent to the area that is being reforested each year.
The Colombian agriculture minister also said that a risk exists of possible conflict between the mining sector and the agriculture sector because of indiscriminate awarding of mining licenses in national territory.
Restrepo Salazar cited the case of Uraba, where more than 82% of the territory has been titled in a disorganized and often illegal manner, to mining companies. If those mining licenses “translate to holes and excavations in the earth, there is a risk that Uraba will retun to what today is the center of Cesar, which is a lunar landscape where agriculture has stopped.”
The country’s geological and mining institute reported Monday that authorities will investigate cases of serious corruption found in the granting of mining rights by institute employees, which included the granting of 37 titles in national parks and reserves, monopolies on titles and violation of rights in mining communities.