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Colombia reports drop in deforestation

Colombia has for the first time released an annual report on deforestation, revealing that forest loss during 2013 was lower than the recent average.

The government says some 120,933 hectares of natural forest were cleared between January and December 2013. That is significantly lower than the annual 208,000 ha of “forest loss” (note) between 2001 and 2012 estimated by researchers led by the University of Maryland’s Matt Hansen.

Gabriel Vallejo López, the Minister of Environment, said the new monitoring system would enable authorities to respond to deforestation in a more timely manner.

“Because today we have more accurate annual information we can identify and take faster action against activities that affect forest conservation, such as logging and illegal mining, conversion agricultural crops or forest fires,” he said in a statement.

The system shows that the bulk of deforestation — 57 percent — is concentrated in the Colombian Amazon.

Deforestation in the Colombian Amazon. Photo by Rhett A. Butler.

Between the Amazon, the Chocó, Andean cloud forests, the llanos, and other ecosystems, Colombia is one of the most biodiverse countries on Earth. Last month the government joined the Global 20-20 Initiative, which aims to restore 20 million hectares of forest by 2020.

Hansen’s “forest loss” includes plantation management activities and is based on a different methodology.

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