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Deforestation is a big deal. Destroying forests is a driver of climate change, and threatens natural ecosystems. The Amazon rainforest in South America is the largest in the world. It is sometimes called “the lungs of the earth” due to its important role in absorbing carbon dioxide and emitting carbon. However, since the mid-1900s, the Amazon has been facing alarming rates of deforestation. This is largely due to land being cleared for cattle ranching and other agricultural ventures. However, according to a statement from Columbia’s Environmental Minister, Susana Muhamad, deforestation rates in the Columbian Amazon have dropped by 70 percent up to this point in 2023.
Source: Al Jazeera English/YouTube
Columbia is one of the nine countries to contain part of the Amazon rainforest. The other countries are Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela, and French Guinea. Over 60 percent of the Amazon rainforest lies in Brazil.
Most of the deforestation within Columbia takes place in the Amazon rainforest. However, the newly elected government has prioritized environmental protection. This government is headed by President Gustavo Petro. Petro took power in August of 2022. Since then, several policies to protect Columbia’s forests from deforestation have been implemented. These include paying local people to care for nearby woodlands and prosecuting illegal environmental crimes such as logging.
Although the recent news is good, the Environmental Minister warns that several factors could upend the progress. Dry weather patterns caused by El Nino could damage forests. Droughts are already plaguing the region. Nearby Brazil has already seen increases in wildfires due to drought conditions. Additionally, armed conflicts within the country could lead to increased deforestation. Fear of conflicts has been exacerbated by the cessation of peace talks between the armed group Estado Mayor Central and Columbia’s government.
At the COP26 climate summit in 2021, over 100 countries pledged to end and reverse deforestation by 2030. The pledge’s signatories included Colombia. However, deforestation rates are currently declining too slowly to meet this goal.
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