Colombia's Amazon forest gets boost with $366 million protection fund

As Brazil's government pulls back on forest protection, European money to preserve forests flows to Colombia

The lowland Amazon forest in Colombia is not subjected to the Coca wars that cause much of the deforestation in the highlands. 

By Anastasia Moloney - 11. December 2019

BOGOTA, Dec 11 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Norway, Germany and Britain said on Thursday they would spend up to $366 million over the next five years to help Colombia reduce deforestation in its vast Amazon rainforest.

The three nations have backed Colombia's efforts to preserve forest areas covering almost 60 million hectares since 2015, with about $180 million invested so far.

"The renewal of the declaration is a recognition of Colombia's ability to reverse the deforestation trend, having achieved a 10% reduction in deforestation in 2018 compared to 2017," the countries said in a joint statement.

The announcement was made at the United Nations climate talks held in Madrid, where ministers from around the world are cloistered in the final days of two weeks of talks to shore up the 2015 Paris Agreement to avert catastrophic global warming.

"Colombia's ambition and commitment to reduce deforestation is of global significance," Ola Elvestuen, Norway's climate and environment minister, said in a statement.

"We cannot solve climate change without stopping deforestation. The international community should now step up to mobilize billions of dollars per year to support forest countries that succeed in reducing emissions," he said.

Norway, one of the world's leading donors to protect tropical forests worldwide, has pledged the bulk of its latest funding to Colombia, committing to $311 million.

Colombia has set ambitious goals to curb deforestation, including reducing the annual loss of natural forests to 155,000 hectares (380,000 acres) or less by 2022 and 100,000 hectares or less by 2025.

If successful, this would mean a reduction in Colombia's deforestation rates by 50% compared to 2018.

The Amazon is the world's largest tropical rainforest and is considered key to the fight against climate change because of the vast amounts of planet-warming carbon dioxide it absorbs.

The urgent need to protect the Amazon has come under the spotlight as deforestation in Brazil, home to the biggest share of the Amazon, rose to its highest in over a decade this year under the administration of President Jair Bolsonaro.

Brazil and Bolivia have also struggled to curb massive forest fires this year.

Across the Amazon basin, more trees are being cut down or burned to open up land for agriculture and cattle ranching, alongside largely unchecked illegal mining and logging, environmentalists say.

Norway in August suspended its donations supporting projects to curb deforestation in Brazil after the country's right-wing government blocked operations of the fund receiving the aid, the Norwegian ministry of climate and environment said.

Of the total $366 million pledged until 2025 to protect Colombia's rainforest and promote its sustainable use, up to $260 million will be payments for achieved emission reductions, the announcement said.

Up to another $106 million will help Colombia meets its goals to preserve forests.

One of those is an aim to begin restoring 200,000 hectares of forest by 2022, including in forest areas that are home to indigenous communities. Colombia also plans to support small farmers and cattle ranchers to produce in more sustainable ways.

Since 2015, the country has received tens of millions of dollars in payouts from Norway, Germany and Britain for meeting targets to reduce emissions by slowing deforestation.

The payments are usually distributed to farmers, as well as to community and indigenous groups and local environment authorities working on forest protection.

(Reporting by Anastasia Moloney | @anastasiabogota | Thomson Reuters Foundation, Editing by Laurie Goering. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit https://news.trust.org)

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Brazil Amazon deforestation climbs more than 100% in November over same month last year -gov't agency

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Deforestation for agricultual 'development' has reached ECOCIDE levels in Porto Velho, Rondonia State of Brazil under the Bolsonaro regime. Photo: Bruno Kelly/Reuters

By Reuters - 13 December 2019

Researchers and environmentalists blame right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro for emboldening ranchers and loggers by calling for the Amazon to be developed

SAO PAULO, Dec 13 (Reuters) - Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon jumped to the highest level for the month of November since record-keeping began in 2015, according to preliminary government data published on Friday.

Destruction of the world's largest tropical rainforest totaled 563 square km (217.38 square miles) in November, 103% more than in the same month last year, according to the country's space research agency INPE.

That would bring total deforestation for the period from January to November to 8,934 square km, 83% more than in the same period in 2018 and an area almost the size of Puerto Rico.

The data released by INPE was collected through the DETER database, a system that publishes alerts on fires and other types of developments affecting the rainforest.

The DETER numbers are not considered official deforestation data. That comes from a different system called PRODES, also managed by INPE.

PRODES numbers released last month showed deforestation rose to its highest in over a decade this year, jumping 30% from 2018 to 9,762 square km.

Deforestation usually slows around November and December during the Amazon region's rainy season. The number for last month was unusually high.

Researchers and environmentalists blame right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro for emboldening ranchers and loggers by calling for the Amazon to be developed and for weakening the environmental agency Ibama.

Bolsonaro and Environment Minister Ricardo Salles have said previous governments played a role in deforestation's increase, saying policies including budget cuts at agencies like Ibama were in place well before the new government took office on Jan. 1.

Brazil's Environment Ministry had no immediate comment on Friday on the DETER data for November.

 

(Reporting by Marcelo Teixeira Editing by Tom Brown)

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