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Armed conflict was not always ‘good’ for preventing deforestation in Colombia (commentary)

20 / 12 / 2017, Mongabaycom News

The peace deal last year in Colombia has elicited a variety of opinions. One of the loudest comes from some environmental conservation advocates who fear that it will exacerbate deforestation and shrink further the area for endangered species. Why’s that? “Armed conflict is good for preventing deforestation,” as a tweet from Rainforest Foundation, quoting Pablo Negret, a doctoral researcher at the University of Queensland, said a few days ago. Negret spoke with Mongabay for an article on the Blue-billed Curassow — a Critically Endangered bird that can only be found in the Colombian forests — and its chances of survival in the wake of the peace accord between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, that was struck last year. I too used to be part of the camp that worried about the implications of the peace accord for the forests of Colombia. I used to think that the armed conflict did indeed contribute to forest conservation — full stop. Today, I have a different view. And I would go even further: I think it is rather misleading to make an umbrella statement that “armed conflict is good for preventing deforestation” in Colombia. I’m saying this after doing in-depth studies on the relationship of armed conflict and deforestation in the Latin American country. I, together with my research partners, found that several factors determine the extent of deforestation in Colombia. In one study, we found that forests served certain purposes for armed groups in Colombia,…

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