Deforestation in Colombia ‘surged’ since 2016 peace accord

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Deforestation has increased in Colombia five years after the peace agreement between the government and with the guerrilla movement FARC in 2016, a report by the International Crisis Group think tank has found.

The report, released on Thursday, said deforestation had “surged” in Colombia since the peace accord. Almost 225,000 hectares of forest were destroyed in 2017 alone.

While the FARC ran “roughshod over the environment,” their departure provided “an opportunity for other insurgencies and organised crime to assert control.” the report said.

“With state authority in the countryside still feeble, those groups pushed back the forest to expand enterprises like coca growing, cattle ranching, illegal gold mining and logging, sometimes working with legal businesses.”

However, deforestation was not solely the handiwork of illegal groups, the report said.

“Tens of thousands of internally displaced people and other conflict victims, many of them desperately poor, have been swept up in the push to clear Colombia’s woodlands for remunerative uses.”

The report urged the government to fully implement the peace accord’s land distribution schemes and to target criminals who were financing deforestation.

“Without more vigorous state action, Colombia will be unable either to meet its goal of zero deforestation by 2030 or to fulfil its ambitious Paris Climate Agreement pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 51 per cent by 2030.”

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