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 for pasture and crop cultivation, illegal mining and logging encroach on areas previously off-limits due to the country’s conflict. In 2018, Colombia lost more than 197,000 hectares of natural forest, mainly in the Amazonia region.
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.
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation.
- Increase livelihood opportunities in forested areas.
- Strengthen territorial governance of forest dependent ethnic groups and farmer communities.
- Realise a positive forest sector / commercial balance.
As part 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.
Degraded forest due to extensive cattle ranching, Caquetá Department, Colombia by Frédéric Baron, EU REDD Facility
EU REDD Facility work in Colombia
Financing community forestry
The EU REDD Facility has assessed the economics of community forestry in Colombia, demonstrating that logging activities in natural forests are an informal subsistence activity for communities that live in or near forests. Costs and time required to obtain official forest logging permits are not financially covered with the sale of timber. Communities struggle to access credit from commercial banks, as rights to land are inalienable and cannot be used for financial guarantees. Based on this first analysis, we will continue to support the development of financial solutions for community forestry.
Sustainable local land-use governance
More than a third of Colombia’s land area is under collective ownership, and of this 67% is forested. For this reason, intercultural governance between farmers and indigenous communities is a key priority for the government, including in the framework of the National REDD+ Strategy. An important step for fostering intercultural dialogue and trust is identifying common issues and challenges regarding natural resources. In Amazonia where cattle ranching competes with forestlands, sustainable water management is key to developing a common vision and agreement for the territory and to maintaining forest cover. The success of local intercultural governance models will rely on local administrations recognising them as a critical component of sustainable land-use planning. The Facility has developed a project in the Amazonian region (Caquetá) anchored to the EU-funded Amazon 2.0 programme, to identify local intercultural governance mechanisms in support of sustainable land use and to maintain forest cover.
Local environmental leaders, Caquetá Department, Colombia by Frédéric Baron, EU REDD Facility
Traceability and transparency in deforestation-free production and trade
In the framework of the national zero-deforestation agreements signed by stakeholders of various sectors, the Facility is supporting the Institute for Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies (Instituto de Hidrología, Meteorología y Estudios Ambientales - IDEAM), the Ministry of Environment and the national Roundtable for Traceability, Monitoring and Verification, to develop a traceability system to monitor and trace sustainable zero-deforestation cocoa.