Amazon, Rainforest, Environment, Biodiversity, Acai
Farmer Jose Santos Diogo harvests berries from an acai palm tree at his plantation in Abaetetuba, Para State. AFP

Colombian Environment Minister Susana Muhamad on Monday said deforestation in the country's Amazon region has declined by 25% to 35%.

However, she cautioned that evidence suggests a concerning rise in deforestation levels during 2024, Reuters reported.

The Latin American country is well-known as one of the world's most biodiverse countries, as it consists of a stunning array of ecosystems and species, including 1,900 bird species and diverse wildlife. But, just like in other nearby places, Colombia loses large areas of forests every year because of deforestation.

Colombia's deforestation went down by 29% in 2022, as per the most recent data available. This data shows that around 1,235 square kilometers (477 square miles) of forest were cut down across the country. Most of this deforestation happens in the Amazon region.

Although deforestation was expected to decrease in 2023, the environment ministry reported that destruction in Colombia's Amazon area went up by 40% in the first quarter of 2024 compared to the same period last year.

The condition of Colombia's forests is deteriorating due to the intense El Nino weather phenomenon, resulting in drier and hotter conditions. This has led to droughts and fires across the country.

El Nino can create a significant impact on any country in the form of drought, which leads to water shortages, decreased agricultural productivity, and stress on water resources. Furthermore, heat waves negatively impact human health and natural ecosystems.

Aside from weather conditions, conflicts with illegal armed groups are exerting pressure on environmental leaders and hampering the essential work of officials from the National Environmental System, as per the minister.

Colombia faces challenges in protecting its environment as it is considered one of the world's most dangerous countries for environmentalists. According to the advocacy group Global Witness, dozens of activists are killed every year for their efforts to protect the environment.

"The psychological pressure that armed groups are exerting against communities is terrible," Muhamad said. "Nature is being put in the middle of the conflict."

Last year, the Colombian government aimed to raise $1 billion by 2026 after launching a new biodiversity fund to protect the ecosystems in the country.

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