Deforestation in the Colombian Amazon_FCDS

Drivers of deforestation in the Colombian Amazon

The Amazon is the most extensive rainforest on Earth. In a world where rainforests are disappearing at an alarming rate while the climate is changing, it is of great importance to safeguard the Amazon region. In Colombia, 35% of the land is covered by rainforest. But its Amazon is at risk: the globally surging demand for commodities such as beef, palm oil, gold and illicit crops for illicit use drives deforestation, severely affecting nature and people. We analysed the main drivers of deforestation in the Colombian Amazon in a series of articles.

Header photo: © FCDS

No driver is an island

The publication “Drivers of deforestation in the Colombian Amazon“ is a compilation of the six previously published articles. Even though the drivers are presented separately, it is important to point out that they are interconnected; the inhabitants of the Amazon region often face multiple challenges simultaneously.

While the articles focus on the Colombian context, dynamics of deforestation are not limited by borders. Related activities, such as gold mining, literally cross borders, and are pushed by a growing global demand. Deforestation is often linked to (inter)national illegal networks and connected with corrupt activities and armed groups.

Previously published articles:

Indigenous peoples and local communities

Research shows that nature management by communities is a highly effective form of conservation. The deforestation rate in areas where Indigenous communities live is much lower. Moreover, the greatest successes for conservation and well-being are achieved when Indigenous and local communities are in charge.

Despite the evidence, Indigenous peoples and local communities are often not (sufficiently) included in decision-making processes about their territory and its natural resources. Deforestation and related activities frequently cause socio-environmental conflicts. Resistance is not without risk: Amazon people standing up for their rights often face intimidation, violence and even death.

According to Global Witness, Colombia’s is the world’s deadliest country for environmental defenders. In 2023, 60 Colombian environmental human rights defenders were killed: more than a third of that year’s total worldwide.

Improving territorial rights and livelihoods

Understanding the dynamics of deforestation enables NGOs, researchers and others, to take the next steps to end forest crime, protect environmental rights and stop deforestation.

But understanding alone is not enough. To contribute to safeguarding the Colombian Amazon, IUCN NL aims to end forest crime and improve the territorial rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities. Because they are the forest’s best guardians.

We do this together with Colombian nature organisations Fundación para la Conservación y el Desarrollo Sostenible (FCDS) and Ambiente y Sociedad, and news platform Mongabay. The project “Amazon rights in focus: peoples and forest protection“ is supported by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD).

More information? Contact:

Liliana Jauregui
Liliana Jauregui
Senior Expert Environmental Justice
Mariel Cabero
Expert Environmental Justice