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Colombia Amazon deforestation rose in first half of the year

BOGOTA — Deforestation in Colombia’s Amazon rose to 52,460 hectares (129,631 acres) in the first half of the year and could finish close to 11% higher in 2022, the environment ministry said on Wednesday. 

Last year, total deforestation in Colombia reached 174,103 hectares (430,218 acres), of which about two-thirds was located in the country’s Amazon. That included 47,080 hectares in the first half, the environment ministry said. 

“This year we’re already 11% higher, combining the (first) two quarters, compared to last year,” Environment Minister Susana Muhamad said in a statement. 

Preservation of the Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest, is considered vital to curbing catastrophic climate change, because of the vast amount of greenhouse gas it absorbs. 

Between 2001 and 2021, more than 3.1 million hectares of forest were destroyed in Colombia, of which some 1.86 million hectares were deforested in the country’s Amazon. 

Deforestation in the country soared after guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) demobilized in 2016 as swathes of forest were suddenly opened up to agriculture and criminal gangs who moved into the former rebels’ territory. 

In an interview with Reuters last month, Ms. Muhamad said Colombia must base its conservation targets on international agreements. 

Colombia in 2019 agreed the target of 100,000 hectares (247,105 acres) or less of deforestation by 2025 with Norway, the United Kingdom and Germany. — Reuters

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