first_imgIn Colombia’s southeast Guaviare department, which includes almost 20 percent of the deforested areas of Colombia, harvested wood rots on the ground while gangs and drug traffickers take over the land for illegal mining and agriculture.A main objective of the deforestation is to confiscate the lands in order to later extort those who want to use the area for mining, agriculture, or ranching.The land is also developed, as it was between 2012 and 2015, when the number of hectares of coca planted in Guaviare grew from 3,851 to 5,423, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.The number of timber confiscations in Colombia is staggering: between January and May 2017, police have seized 36,251 cubic meters of wood. GUAVIARE DEPARTMENT, Colombia – In Colombia, there are eight major areas of deforestation. Chief among them is the department of Guaviare, where three of the eight deforested areas are located, according to Colombia’s Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology, and Environmental Studies (IDEAM). All of Guaviare’s municipalities are affected.Unlike the country’s other deforestation hotspots, which have been reduced by up to four percent, the problem in Guaviare continues and even increases in comparison to IDEAM’s measurements in 2016. The increase in deforestation is due to road construction, the growth of the agricultural frontier, the practice of clearing of the forest and sowing the pastures for land speculation, and the cultivation of crops for illicit use.The first deforestation “hotspot” is located in the San José municipality, where the damage extends to and affects the Serranía de la Macarena National Natural Park. The second deforestation hotspot in the department of Guaviare puts the Unique Natural Area (ANU) of Nukak at risk. This area is valued for its flora and fauna as well as its rich culture. The third hotspot is in northeastern San José del Guaviare, in range of the indigenous reservation of Nukak Maku, which today has fewer than 1,000 inhabitants.According to data from the Directorate of Carabineers and Rural Security of the National Police of Colombia, the area’s Nukak Nature Reserve had 786 hectares affected by deforestation in 2011. By 2015, the damage increased to 1,170 hectares, which is an increase of 49 percent.One of the causes of all this deforestation may be surprising, but is not necessarily a new phenomenon.“In departments like Guaviare and Meta, there are organized groups on the fringes of the law who take advantage of the deforestation to exploit the region through illegal mining, and they expand drug trafficking pathways. Among them are dissidents from the FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia] and criminal gangs like The Gulf’s Clan and Los Puntilleros,” said Rodrigo González, Director of Carabineers and Rural Security of the National Police.The Nukak Nature Reserve had 786 hectares affected by deforestation in 2011 and in 2015 the number rose to 1,170. Photo courtesy of the National Natural Parks System of ColombiaThe Gulf’s Clan, which mainly operates in the departments of Córdoba, Chocó, and Antioquia, has spread its influence to other regions of the country, including a large part of the Amazonian territory. Los Puntilleros emerged as a gang after the death of Martín Farfán, with the alias “Pijarvey,” who ran the self-named Liberators of Vichada drug trafficking group, created after a disappearance within the United Self-Defenders of Colombia (AUC).The AUC was the largest paramilitary group in Colombia. At first, the group emerged mainly as an armed force against the guerrillas in rural areas used for ranching. The group, which was led by the Castaño brothers, was completely demobilized in August 2006 in a peace process with then-president Álvaro Uribe Vélez. However, after its demobilization, some dissidents consolidated other small paramilitary groups, also called neo-paramilitary groups, including the Liberators of Vichada. The Gulf’s Clan, however, is the largest neo-paramilitary group in Colombia. They were previously known as Los Urabeños or Clan Úsuga. Their ringleader, Dairo Antonio Úsuga, with the alias Otoniel, is one of the Colombian police force’s most-wanted people.This area in the San José del Guaviare municipality is one of the country’s most deforested areas. It is used by drug traffickers and people who want to capitalize on the construction of South America’s Jungle Border Highway project. Photo courtesy of the Colombian Air ForceThese gangs have survived because of drug trafficking and have also deforested a large part of Guaviare in order to continue illicit coca cultivation, taking advantage of the fact that the jungle in the area is difficult to access. In fact, the number of hectares of coca planted in Guaviare grew from 3,851 in 2012 to 5,423 in 2015, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.Rotting woodThe deforestation of this jungle area has a large impact on the environment, especially with talk of climate change and the fact that one of the main strategies to mitigate its impact, in countries like Colombia, is to stop the indiscriminate cutting of trees. As if this weren’t enough, in Guaviare, unlike other areas of the country, the wood that is harvested does not even have a use within the black market. The Colombian Air Force’s photos show how the harvested wood rots around the affected areas because it is not put to use.Guaviare is home to large natural reserves as well as Chiribiquete National Natural Park, one of Colombia’s most recently-protected areas. Photo by León Dario Peláez for SemanaAccording to sources from the National Police of Colombia, this is due to the fact that transporting the wood is very costly for criminal groups, since these areas have no roads and the closest populated areas are only reachable after five hours of sailing the river. Furthermore, the main objective is to confiscate the lands in order to later extort those who want to use the area for mining, agriculture, or ranching.However, there are illicit activities that also depend on deforestation. One of those is to learn the layout of roads in order to settle near them, and then get economic compensation in the future for having to resettle.This is what has happened with the Jungle Border Highway, a $40 million project which is expected to unite Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela by providing an exit by land from the Pacific to the Atlantic, without crossing the Andes Mountains. Groups of people were bribed or forced to resettle because of where the road would be built. They began to indiscriminately cut down the trees in Puerto Cachicamo and El Capricho, both of which are in Guaviare. Trees were also cut down in Nueva Colombia and La Tigra in the municipalities of Vista Hermosa and Puerto Rico, in the department of Meta. The goal was to get millions of dollars in compensation from the State once the road construction began. These resources would end up in the hands of Los Puntilleros, The Gulf’s Clan, and dissidents from the FARC.Furniture for the governmentAlthough there is a large underreporting of the wood that is trafficked in Colombia, the number of lumber confiscations by the police is staggering. Between January and May 2017, police have seized 36,251 cubic meters of wood in the country, which is enough to fill about 1,647 trucks.Guaviare is one of the departments in Colombia that is most affected by deforestation. Photo courtesy of the Colombian Air ForceEvery time a truck illegally transporting wood is stopped, the driver is either asked for a letter of safe-passage if the wood comes from a native forest, or is asked whether the removal was ordered by the Colombian Agricultural Institute (ICA) if it comes from a commercial forest. If they do not comply with either of those conditions, the wood is seized and moved to the Association of Regional Autonomous Corporations (CAR), who work to prevent further damage and open an investigation. At the same time, a criminal proceeding is opened and can lead to four to nine years in prison for the trafficker.However, once the trees are cut down, the damage is irreversible. “It is very important to create a reforestation plan in the affected areas to counteract the environmental impact and avoid the proliferation of drug trafficking and other criminal activities in the area. To avoid deforestation, it’s very important that the Public Forces [of Colombia] and the environmental authorities establish efficient channels of communication,” says General González.If the deforestation is not halted, the most “beneficial” thing that can happen with the wood is that it ends up being used as furniture for the Colombian government through an inter-institutional agreement with the CAR.(This article is a journalistic collaboration between Mongabay Latam and Semana Sostenible of Colombia.) It was originally published in Spanish.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Article published by Genevieve Belmaker Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredcenter_img Amazon Rainforest, Deforestation, Featured, Forests, Illegal Mining, Mining last_img