PanamaTimes

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Colombian Amazon Deforestation Surges: Armed Groups Reverse Ban, Increase Control

The Colombian Amazon is experiencing a surge in deforestation, with preliminary data indicating a 40% increase in the first quarter of 2024 compared to the same period in 2023.
Armed groups are reportedly tightening their control over the rainforest, using it as a bargaining chip in peace negotiations with the government.

Susana Muhamad, Colombia's environment minister, expressed concern over the trend, citing two main reasons for the increase.

Colombia experienced a significant increase in deforestation after the 2016 peace accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc), with a record 219,973 hectares (544,000 acres) lost in 2017 due to armed group coercion and favorable conditions caused by the El Niño phenomenon.

The government of Gustavo Petro, the first left-wing administration in Colombia's history, has since reversed the trend by negotiating with armed rebels to protect the forests.

Deforestation in Colombia decreased by 29% in 2022 compared to 2021, reaching the lowest level since 2013.

Preliminary data indicates a further decrease of 25-35% in 2023.

The significant drop was mainly due to a ban on forest clearing imposed by the Estado Mayor Central (EMC), a rebel group controlling large forested areas in the south of the country.

However, the talks between the EMC and the government became strained, leading to the revocation of the ban and an end to the deforestation decline.
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