“I’ve already said it and today I say it again without mincing my words: we cannot continue to allow this environmental massacre,” said Santos, pointing out the combined area of forest that had been decimated in the last five years — 600,000 acres — equalled the size of Colombia’s Atlantico department.
The president said lives were being lost as a result, as deforestation caused erosion, and erosion caused landslides — a huge problem during Colombia’s most recent rainy season, in which 185 people were killed and more than 900,000 affected.
Santos said, “The subject of the forest has everything to do with this, because reforestation can be our great protector against the future winter rains like those we have just suffered.”
Illegal logging accounts for 42% of Colombian deforestation, according to the World Bank. Santos said the government had launched a crusade against illegal mining and illegal logging.
“Our goal is to ensure that all timber that is logged, sold and used comes exclusively from legal sources,” he said, adding that the government would invest $55 million in reforestation.