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Colombia Amazon deforestation decline by 35% last year, ministry says

Deforestation in Colombia’s Amazon region is forecast to have declined by 25% to 35% in 2023, Environment Minister Susana Muhamad said on Monday, while warning that evidence shows that destruction has increased so far in 2024.

Colombia is one of the world’s most biodiverse countries, with thousands of plant and animal species calling its ecosystems home.

However, like elsewhere in the region, it loses swathes of forest to deforestation each year.

While Colombia’s deforestation decreased by around 29% in 2022 – the most recent numbers available – that still meant some 1,235 square kilometers (477 square miles) of forest being torn down across the country.

Most of Colombia’s deforestation takes place in the Amazon region.

However, if deforestation is expected to have fallen in 2023, destruction across the country’s Amazon has risen by 40% in the first quarter of 2024 versus the year-earlier period, the environment ministry said in a statement.

The situation for the country’s forests is worsening amid a strong El Nino weather phenomenon which has caused dryer and hotter conditions, leading to droughts and fires throughout Colombia.

At the same time, conflict with illegal armed groups is putting environmental leaders under pressure and preventing officials from the National Environmental System from doing vital work, the ministry said.

Colombia is one of the world’s deadliest countries for environmentalists, where dozens of activists are killed every year for their efforts, according to advocacy group Global Witness.

“The psychological pressure that armed groups are exerting against communities is terrible,” Muhamad said in the statement. “Nature is being put in the middle of the conflict.”

 

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