Colombian environmental institutions and organizations have teamed up to provide more effective protection against deforestation in the country’s Amazon region.
From 2013 onwards, a collective of environmental organizations backed by the government will measure deforestation in the Colombian Amazon biannually, as opposed to every five years.
The move was related to controversy over significant differences in the latest statistics, which are currently still measured over five year periods. Between 2005 and 2010, the government Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies (IDEAM) declared a 1% loss of Colombian rainforest while the Gaia Amazonas foundation reported the figure to to be 1.4%.
According to Martin von Hildebrand, director of Gaia Amazonas, one of the leading institutions in the collaboration, “without up to date information on the monitoring and control of an area we shouldn’t even enter it, as a matter of precaution.”
According to a recent study, “Amazonia Under Pressure,” carried out by the Amazonian Network of Socio-environmental Georeferenciation (RAISG), unless radical measures are taken half of the forest will have disappeared by 2050.
Last year Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos bemoaned the state of the Colombian rainforest, declaring the launch of a government crusade against illegal mining and logging.
Director General of Alisos Wendy Arenas Wightman, who will also play a lead role in the new biannual analysis, recently criticized the government for delaying the shortening of the five-year analysis period which was reportedly promised in their 2010 National Development Plan.
Arenas told Colombia Reports that the hold-up can be attributed “in part to the institutional weakness of the environmental sector and equally due to a lack of political motivation on behalf of the State to allocate funds to the project.”
The Alisos director also emphasized the limitations that insufficient data cause in the fight to control the negative influences on the Colombian Amazon, which is subject to excessive deforestation (legal and illegal), cattle farming, farming and other national and international activities.
“Changes to the coverage of wooded areas, which cause an accelerated loss of biodiversity, can vary drastically from one year to the next,” said Arenas adding that lack of information can make it “extremely difficult to follow up on the state of the forest.”
As well as impeding the effectiveness of environmental measures attempting to keep in check the devastation of the Colombian rainforest, this lack of detailed information has also played a part in the lack of definitive political action in the forest’s conservation. Arenas claims that “trends can help to kick off a political movement to stop deforestation” but insists that “more specific information is required.”
However, according to Arenas, the Colombian government, through IDEAM, has confirmed that biannual statistics will be taken as of this year, “which will allow for more precise evaluation of the impact of environmental measures carried out by the national government as well as by local municipalities and departments.”
It is also hoped that with these more precise statistics, a greater awareness of the situation will both increase public awareness of the issue of deforestation and attract more important resources through international cooperation.
Colombia’s neighbor, Brazil, which contains within its borders more than 60% of South America’s rainforest within its borders, carries out annual deforestation analysis.
Although this represents slow progress for Colombia’s fight against deforestation, Arenas maintains it is a necessary step in the right direction, expressing her “hope that the next government will push for an annual measuring rate in the near (reasonable) future.”
- Interview with Wendy Arenas Wightman
- Colombia sigue sin tener cifra anual de deforestación (El Tiempo)
- Amazonia bajo presion (RAISG)
- Deforestación pone en peligro a plantas de la Amazonia (El Espectador)
- Plan Nacional de Desarollo 2010 (Ministerio de Ambiente y Desarollo Sostenible)
- Brazilian deforestation lower in 2012 to date (Mongabay.com)