A report published by the Antioquia Forest Observatory revealed the Colombian Department of Antioquia has lost 19,700 hectares of forest, and 21.200 of Andean forest every year since 1990 due to deforestation.
In 1990, 42 percent of the land of 125 municipalities of the department Antioquia was covered by forest, in 2015 this percentage was reduced to 35. Andean forests, forests in mountainous areas 1,000 meters above sea level, used to cover 32 percent of the territory in 1990, now it only covers 18 percent of the total area.
The Observatory attributes these phenomena primarily to extensive cattle farming.
Communities of the northern subregion of Antioquia have denounced that the hydroelectric project Hidroituango will worsen the situation clearing 4,500 hectares of tropical forest. The Rios Vivos organization has also warned the flooding generated by the dam will affect fauna and flora in at least 12 municipalities.
The lead investigator of the Forest Observatory, Sebastian Gonzales, explained that Uraba region, in the lower Cauca, is one of the most affected areas.
This loss also affects water sources because 100 percent of the water available for the region of the Aburra Valley comes from the Andean forests that are now at risk.
He also pointed that the clearing of trees to make way for cattle farming is the number one cause of deforestation of Antioquia’s forests. Agriculture, mining, indiscriminate sale of land and the electric project highlighted by community members are the other factors that accelerated the disappearance of two-thirds of the forests.
In its concluding remarks, the report laments how limited public economic investment in human capital, culture, the environment and innovation has been in Colombia; it also calls for more resources and better public policies to ensure a sustainable use of natural resources.