Between 2002 and 2016 the country lost its forests to agriculture and cattle ranching.
According to the report “Monitoreo de los bosques y otras coberturas de la Amazonía colombiana” done by the SINCHI Institute (Amazon scientific research institute) Colombia lost 5256km2 of forests in the Amazon between 2002-2016.
“This report is part of the monitoring system by the SINCHI Institute. The study covers all the Colombian Amazon which has a total area of 483,164 km2. The data used was obtained in 2002, 2007, 2014 and 2016. The data from 2016 is expected to be published this year as it is in the last editing stages,” told Mongabay Latam Uriel Murcia Garcia, chief research coordinator at SINCHI and one of the report’s authors.
The forests were lost mainly to agriculture and cattle ranching. “When we speak of forest loss the research refers to the measures we made when the monitoring began (2002) until the last year of monitoring. In the Amazon, the causes are related to deforestation for cattle ranching. They also include areas that have been lost under natural circumstances like wind.”
The most affected regions are located in the Guaviare, Meta, Caquetá and Putumayo departments. Indigenous rights have also been affected. For example, in Guaviare cattle ranchers have taken land form the Nukak people. More so, gold mining and oil drillings affect both the health and livelihoods of these communities.
According to Murcia conservation efforts in the area should include incentives for the regions with the lowest deforestation rates as well as government sanctions for those regions that cut down trees for cattle ranching.
“We cannot have a sustainable Amazon region if every year we lose 4,1% of its forests to cattle ranching, which is not sustainable at all,” reads the report. Instead, they recommend ecotourism.
More so, Julio Cesar Lopez, legal representative from the Organization of the Colombian Indigenous Peoples (OPIAC) believes they should be included in this efforts. “We need to ensure our traditions and livelihoods are protected,” he argued.