Colombia’s tropical forests, covering 52% and more than 60 million hectares of the country’s land area, are home to some of the world’s greatest biodiversity and provide important economic, social and cultural services for local communities.
Yet deforestation has been increasing. Between 1990 and 2016, more than 6 million hectares of forests were lost. Since the 2016 conclusion of the peace process between the Government and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), deforestation rates have increased rapidly as agricultural expansion, cattle ranching, illicit crops and illegal mining encroach on previously off-limits areas. 2017 was a peak year as Colombia lost 219,552 hectares of natural forest, mainly in the Amazonia region. However, according to IDEAM estimation of deforestation up until first trimester of 2021, the loss of Amazonian forest is decreasing comparing to 2017 overall annual loss of the same region. The Covid-19 pandemic might have contributed to a slight increase in 2020 as it has been the case in other countries in the region and worldwide.
Under its national REDD Strategy (Estrategia Integral de Control a la Deforestación y Gestión de los Bosques – EICDGB), Colombia has five forest-related goals for 2030:
- Achieve zero net deforestation.
- From avoided deforestation, reduce correlating greenhouse gas emissions.
- Increase livelihood opportunities in forested areas, with a key role of community forestry recognized.
- Strengthen territorial governance of ethnic groups and farmer communities that dependent on forests.
- Realise a positive forest sector / commercial balance.
More recently, with its adjusted NDC, in December 2020, and the CONPES 4021 (“National policy for the Control of Deforestation and Forest Management”), Colombia has demonstrated willingness to comply with its international commitments and reach zero net deforestation by 2030, as CO2 emissions of the AFOLU sector represents 55% of national emissions, forest cover loss contributing greatly.
As an element of the peace agreement, Colombia’s National Agricultural Frontier was defined in 2018. The frontier definition prohibits any agricultural activity or development in areas that were forests in 2010, and mandates restoration of areas that have been deforested since 2010. In parallel, Colombia counts with zero-deforestation agreements for meat, dairy, cocoa, coffee, and palm oil sectors that have been developed on a multistakeholder basis.