Deforestation in the Colombian Amazon is down 70 percent, year on year, through the first nine months of 2023, the government estimates.
Since taking power last year, leftist President Gustavo Petro has enacted a slate of new policies aimed at protecting Colombian forests, including paying locals to conserve woodland. These policies are having an effect, environment minister Susana Muhamad said in a statement.
It is too early, however, to suggest that Colombia is winning the fight against deforestation, Muhamad said. With a strong El Niño now taking shape, Colombia is looking ahead to a period of drought, which could ramp up forest loss.
The recent gains in Colombia mirror similar advances in the Brazilian Amazon, where leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has cracked down on forest clearing. Deforestation is down 50 percent through the first nine months of this year. Though, as in Colombia, drought now threatens to unravel these gains. Brazil has seen an uptick in wildfires amid increasingly dry conditions.
In 2021, more than 100 countries, from Brazil to Russia to Indonesia, set a goal to end deforestation by the end of this decade, but so far forest loss has declined too slowly to stay on pace for this target. To get on track, analysts say, the world must cut global forest loss by 28 percent this year.