In 2023, Colombia recorded the lowest deforestation figure in the last 23 years

In 2023, Colombia recorded the lowest deforestation figure in the last 23 years
In 2023, Colombia recorded the lowest deforestation figure in the last 23 years

Journalist from the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana. I fulfilled my dream of becoming a doctor by doing health journalism. I also write about science and occasionally culture.

There is good news for the Colombian territory in terms of the environment. According to figures provided by the Ministry of Environment, Colombia achieved a historic decline in deforestation, managing to reduce forest loss to 79,256 hectares, the lowest figure in the last 23 years.

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This achievement far exceeds the goal of the National Development Plan, which projected a decrease in 20% annually compared to 2021 deforestation levels, which were 174,103 hectares.

According to the Minister of Environment, Susana Muhamad, deforestation in Colombia decreased by 36% in 2023 compared to 2022 and by 54% compared to 2021. These figures, verified by the Forest and Carbon Monitoring System of the Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies (IDEAM), reflect the success of the conservation strategies implemented.

The reduction in deforestation has been particularly notable in the Colombian Amazon. In 2023, deforestation in this region went from 71,185 hectares to 44,274 hectares. This decline was also observed in several Natural National Parks, as the La Macarena mountain range, the Chiribiquete mountain range, Tinigua and the Los Picachos mountain range.

Sandra Valenzuela, WWF director for Colombia, spoke about this milestone.

“Less deforestation means more well-being for people and the planet! 2023 left the lowest figure in 23 years, according to figures from the Ministry of Environment. Great news in the fight against one of the most critical drivers of biodiversity loss. The protection of our forests must always be a priority. How valuable it is to see how social and institutional agreements for effective land management show positive results,” she wrote on her social networks.

One of the key factors in this reduction has been the role of community organizations. In Colombia, 57% of forests are in indigenous reservations, collective territories of black communities and Peasant Reserve Zones (ZRC).

In 2023, 533 community actors were actively involved in forest conservation and monitoring. These organizations have proven to be instrumental in protecting the environment and promoting sustainable practices.

Despite progress, Colombia continues to face structural challenges in the fight against deforestation. Land grazing, unsustainable extensive livestock farming, unplanned transport infrastructure, expansion of the agricultural frontier, illicit crops, illegal mineral extraction and illegal logging continue to be critical problems that require comprehensive attention.

The fight against deforestation in Colombia is a ongoing challenge that requires a comprehensive and sustained approach. Cooperation between the State, communities and international cooperation is essential to maintain and expand conservation initiatives.

It is crucial to recognize forests as socio-ecological systems, where nature and human culture are inextricably linked. Addressing deforestation by valuing and sustainably using forests through productive initiatives is vital for the livelihood of many families and for promoting better relations between society and the environment.

What is deforestation?

Deforestation is the conversion of forest areas to other types of cover in a given period, and is generally carried out to give rise to activities agricultural, livestock, urban or mining. This practice has profound and long-lasting consequences, and Colombia is not exempt from this global problem.

Figures released by WWF indicate that every year the world loses around 10 million hectares of forests. In 2022, Colombia lost more than 123,000 hectares of forest. Although in 2023 that figure was reduced by 36%, reaching 79,256 hectares, The loss remains significant and continues to affect biodiversity, ecosystems and local communities.

Causes of deforestation

Deforestation in Colombia and elsewhere in Latin America is mainly due to:

1. Commercial agriculture: The expansion of land for the cultivation of soybeans, palm oil and other products is one of the main causes.

2. Livestock: Large areas of forest are cleared to create pastures for livestock.

3. Mining and urbanization: The extraction of mineral resources and urban growth require the intervention of forest areas.

4. Forest fires: Whether natural or man-made, fires destroy vast areas of vegetation and release large amounts of carbon dioxide, contributing to climate change.

Impacts of deforestation

Environmental

1. Climate change: Forests act as carbon sinks, and their destruction releases stored CO₂, increasing greenhouse gases.

Biodiversity loss: Forests are home to numerous species of flora and fauna. Deforestation threatens endemic species that cannot survive outside their natural habitat.

Soil degradation: The loss of forests makes the soil more susceptible to erosion, affecting its fertility and causing landslides.

Social

Impact on indigenous and rural communities: These communities depend on forests for their livelihoods and culture. Deforestation can result in food insecurity and increased disease due to the loss of medicinal plants and other natural resources.

Solutions to combat deforestation

To mitigate the effects of deforestation, it is essential to adopt a multifaceted strategy:

Legal protection: Implement and enforce laws prohibiting indiscriminate logging.

Reforestation and restoration: Recover biodiversity and environmental services through reforestation of degraded ecosystems.

Sustainable agricultural practices: Promote agricultural methods that minimize environmental impact.

Reduction in demand for products: Promote responsible consumption and reduce demand for products that drive deforestation.

Corporate Commitment: Companies must adopt zero deforestation policies in their supply chains.

Deforestation is a crisis that requires immediate attention and coordinated action at global and local levels. Protecting our forests is not only vital for biodiversity and the environment, but also for the communities that depend on them.

 
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