50 Acres of Forest Are Lost Every Hour in Colombia: Report

50 Acres of Forest Are Lost Every Hour in Colombia: Report

The Colombian government is worried about the staggering figures of deforestation affecting citizens. | Photo: EFE

The Amazon, highland and coastal regions of Colombia have the highest rates of deforestation in the country.

Illicit crops, mining, a lack of state regulation and little environmental protection are contributing to the rise in deforestation in Colombia, which rose 44 percent in 2016.

Deforestation in the South American country increased from 306,497 acres in 2015 to 441,322 acres in 2016, Semana Sostenible reported. The Colombian government’s goal is to reduce the size of deforested land in the country to 123,552 acres by 2020 — a goal which is becoming increasingly harder to achieve.

Omar Franco, representing the Forest and Carbon Monitoring System of the Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies, or Ideam, called the rate of deforestation a “worrying figure” during a press conference in Colombia.

Among the main causes of deforestation are land grabs, representing 22 percent of cases, clearing of lands for illicit crops, also representing 22 percent of cases, infrastructure development at 10 percent, forest fires at eight percent, cattle rearing at eight percent and mining at seven percent, according to Semana Sostenible.

“In Colombia, 20.6 hectares (50.9 acres) of natural forest are lost every hour,” Franco said. “The control of deforestation is not simply of the environmental system, it is integral to the state. It’s also part of a commitment of the citizens.”

“We need the country’s policies to be coherent. They can not ask us to conserve, but on the other hand we are full of requests for exploration and exploitation of natural resources,” Minister of Environment Luis Gilberto Murillo said.

In order of percentage, the most affected regions are the Amazon, the highlands, the Pacific coastline and the Caribbean coastline.

He also said that a lack of funding, legal framework and institutional coordination increases the levels of deforestation.

Murillo said that in order to confront the problem, the government will reinforce the creation and protection of new forest reserves, Indigenous reserves, peasant reserves and community councils. They also plan to expand the number and dimensions of the country’s protected areas.

Telesur Enghish