Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Deforestation Nation

Slowing down? Deforestation in the Colombian Amazon. (Photo: MongaBay)
The news was hopeful, even inspiring. On a planet whose environment condition seems to be worsening at an accelerating rate, Colombian authorities announced in late 2014 that the nation's deforestation rate had plummeted from 310,349 hectares in 2012 to only 120,933 hectares in 2013 - a 60% drop.

Unfortunately, the good news probably wasn't true.

In fact, according to researchers from the Universidad Nacional, deforestation has not dropped, and 400,000 hectares per year.
Colombia is losing forest fastest in the red areas
on the coast and in the Andes.
(Image; Claslite)
is actually much worse than the worst figures. The researchers estimate Colombia's deforestation rate at above

Causes of deforestation include logging, mining and the expansion of agriculture (both legal and illegal).

"If the government wants statistics which serve it for its development plans, it must urgently gain credibility in cases like this one," the university's news service wrote.

The galloping deforestation destroys not only biodiversity and the habitats of indigenous peoples, some of whom are going extinct, but is also eliminating an important part of Colombia's natural patrimony.

Those fast-disappearing forests might otherwise have been sustainably logged, and could also serve as valuable storehouses of carbon, or as sources of medicines and as tourist attractions. Their destruction produces short-term incomes - usually small ones - but destroys the nation's capital. The profits appear on the nation's import-export balance sheet, but the loss is ignored.

Deforestation in the Amazon, including Colombia. Data is from 2007-8. (Map from WWF)
After forests are cut down, the land gets rapidly exhausted, leaving behind erosion and desertification.

The supposed drop in deforestation is not the government's only miraculous environmental statistic. When Bogotá environmental authorities announced this year that the city's air was substantially cleaner, independent experts shook their heads and asked how it was possible, with the number of vehicles increasing and no apparent application of environmental controls.

Tragically for the region's forests, they seem to lose no matter what happens to the economy. When commodity prices were high, so was pressure to deforest to extract materials from wold areas. But as
commodity prices have declined, reducing nations' incomes, countries may frantically cut down trees in order to rip out resources as fast as possible to balance their budgets.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


Christos Georgantzos said...

more good news on deforestation

Miguel said...

Thanks Christos. Let's hope it helps.