Eight problematic deforestation areas caused primarily by illegal logging and mining have been identified by the Colombia’s Ministry of Environment and the country’s Hydrology Institute of Meteorology and Environmental Studies (Ideam), local media reported on Wednesday.
The warning of the issue in a number of states throughout the country was announced from Environment Minister, Luz Helena Sarmiento, and the director of Ideam, Omar Franco Torres, at the annual celebration of Tree Day on Tuesday, El Espectador newspaper reported.
The information is based on high-resolution satellite images taken in the second half of 2013 and show that “the new active areas of deforestation” are located in the central state of Meta, the southern states of Caqueta, Nariño and Putumayo, and the remote eastern state of Guainia.
According to Torres, “Deforestation is occurring when there are changes in land use, especially in border areas and regions suffering from armed conflicts”, Vanguardia newspaper reported.
Minister hopes for authorities to take action
Minister Sarmiento expressed concern and said she hoped both local and regional authorities would “take immediate and appropriate action in the activities that are undermining conservation areas in Colombia,” El Colombiano newspaper reported.
“The country must declare war front on activities such as illegal cutting of trees, illegal mining, or replacement of forests by agricultural crops, and undertake preventive work against forest fires”, Sarmiento underlined.
Ideam’s Director Torres added that with these findings it is now up to the state’s Autonomous Regional Corporations (CAR’S), the main regional environmental bodies throughout the country, to take administrative actions against those threatening the natural forests.
According to the Ideam, the newly identified areas have been added to known zones of deforestation located around San Juan, Acandi and Quibdo in the state of Choco, and in the state of Caqueta.
According to Sarmiento, Colombia has about 60 million hectares of natural forest, or 52% of its territory , of which 24.3 million hectares have been zoned and ordered as forest reserve.
According to the Ideam, the total loss of forest area between 2011 and 2012 was 295,892 hectares, equivalent to loosing the total area of the department of Quindio 1.6 times. However, the Environment Minister underlined that as a result of interagency work more than 68 thousand hectares, or 76.2 percent government’s goal established in the National Development Plan has been restored.
Colombia is third in the countries with the largest forest area in South America, partly due to the confiscation of approximately 66,500 cubic meters of illegal timber throughout the country between 2005 and 2009, El Espectador reported.
According to the Ideam, the body will continue monitoring the affected zones every six months.
- Alerta por ocho nuevos núcleos de deforestacion en Colombia (Ideam Press Release)
- Alertan sobre ocho nuevas zonas de deforestación en Colombia (El Espectador)
- Alerta por deforestación en ocho zonas selváticas de Colombia (El Colombiano)
- Identifican otros ocho núcleos de deforestación en Colombia (Vanguardia)