Colombia has the third largest forest area in South America, and an important part of the Amazon rainforest. Colombia is a ‘mega diverse’ country, with the second richest biodiversity in the world – after neighbouring Brazil.

After a dramatic spike in deforestation following the end of the conflict between the government and FARC guerilla in 2016, national deforestation has decreased to the lowest level in a decade.

Germany, the UK and Norway work together to reduce deforestation in Colombia through a climate and forest partnership with the Colombian Government, the Joint Declaration of Intent which runs until 2025.

Drivers of deforestation

Access to land and land ownership is a key driver of the deforestation in Colombia, manifested by extensive cattle ranging, which has increased substantially over the last few years. Illegal and legal roads, coca production and mining are other drivers of the deforestation, as well as a gradual agricultural expansion into the Colombian Amazon.

Positive developments

Rural reform, highlighted in The Peace Agreement with the FARC guerilla from 2016, is tackling one of the most fundamental drivers for deforestation, related to land use.

There are further positive developments with regards to seeing environmental degradation and deforestation as part of the peace efforts with other armed groups in Colombia and there are efforts to jointly work on agriculture, environment and peace in the rural areas of Colombia.

Colombia has a strong civil society and there is increased consciousness of the importance of the different ecosystems and the crucial climatic role of the Amazon rainforest.  

Despite positive development in several areas related to the climate and forest agenda in Colombia, there are still significant challenges when it comes to killings and threats against environmentalists and social leaders, including indigenous peoples and Afro-Colombians.