One of Colombia’s largest Natural National Parks is under threat from cattle ranching and illicit crops cultivation.
Chiribiquete National Park is Colombia’s largest Natural National Park with 2’782.354 hectares. It has been a protected area since 1989 and is located in the Guaviare and Caquetá departments.
Unfortunately, according to figures from Colombian environmental institute IDEAM Caquetá is among the departments with the highest rates of deforestation in the country. In the last 3 years it has lost an average of 23,812 hectares of forest, which are cleared for cattle ranching and illicit crops cultivation. In a national scale, Caquetá’s deforestation is equivalent to 19% of its territory and almost half of the Amazon region.
More so, biologists like Orlando Rangel from the Colombian National University have figures far more worrying than the officials. According to their Natural Sciences Institute the country’s deforestation rate is about 458,000 hectares. Rangel adds up to 128,000 hectares of native forest are lost each year for their wood and up to 30,000 are destroyed for illicit crops cultivation.
Cattle ranching is its main threat because native forest is cleared to plant grass, especially the brachiaria species. In the country, just to raise one cow up to two hectares are used. “They’re replacing two hectares of native forest which has high biodiversity and environmental services like temperature regulation and biomass production instead the new two hectares have only two species, the cow and the grass,” said one study form the Sinchi Institute.
But Chiribiquete is not the only area at risk. According to the National Parks Director Julia Miranda, cattle ranching is threatening also the Amazonas, Guainía, Guaviare, Putumayo and Vaupés departments, which make part of the Amazon region. Also, the lack of financing and people working on the field for monitoring makes it easier for deforestation to happen.
With this in mind, the Colombian Airforce is cooperating with the National Parks Organization to complete tasks of remote monitoring and surveillance. Also they’re working with the community to promote more sustainable alternatives like ecotourism, reforestation and apiculture.
LatinAmerican Post | Maria Andrea Marquez