Improving sustainable forest management in Colombia’s Amazon region
Title: Deforestation-free and climate-friendly land use in Colombia, ProBosques
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Partner organisation: Colombian Presidential Agency of International Cooperation; Agencia Presidencial de Cooperación Internacional de Colombia, APC
Overall term: 2020 to 2022
Colombia is a country with particularly high biodiversity and species diversity. It is one of the world’s 17 ‘megadiverse’ countries that account for over 70 per cent of global species diversity. More than half of the country is forested. However, these areas are threatened by continuing deforestation, with almost 60 per cent occurring in the regions of Caquetá and Meta.
In 2016, the Colombian Government signed a historic peace agreement with the most prominent guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, FARC). With the end of the armed conflict, large parts of these areas, which had previously been virtually inaccessible, have been vulnerable to illegal deforestation. This includes deforestation for land speculation, coca cultivation and illegal mining. But public development projects and infrastructure measures as well as extensive livestock farming and the cultivation of industrial crops such as oil palms, rice, cocoa and rubber also contribute to deforestation. The timber sector is poorly developed and plays a very minor role in the economy, as many forests were controlled by guerrillas for decades. Yet Colombia, with approximately 17 million hectares of natural forest, has great potential for sustainable forest management.
Consequently, it is important to establish and develop value chains for timber and non-timber products in order to create legal and long-term sources of alternative income. These, together with effective control mechanisms and the allocation of land rights and uses, are the core elements of successful strategies to combat deforestation.
Institutional responsibilities for the use of forest resources are divided between the environmental authorities (especially the Ministry of Environment and the regional environmental authorities) and the agricultural ministries and agencies.
Overarching regulations on sustainable forest management are incomplete or outdated and are not implemented consistently. There is also a lack of technical and financial support programmes to strengthen forest-based value chains.
Sustainable forest management has improved in selected regions of Colombia. Forest-based value chains have been strengthened and the implementation of cross-sectoral policy provisions and regulations is supported.
The ProBosques project is active in the former conflict zones of Colombia’s Amazon region. It implements measures at local, regional and national level.
To this end, the project works in three fields of action:
In the first field of action, value chains from sustainable forest management are established. The focus is on small and medium-sized enterprises and cooperatives in the communities and regions. By strengthening their capacities, they will have better access to national and international markets. Sustainable forest management and the interest in long-term resource conservation can generate and increase local income and act as a counterweight to deforestation.
In the second field of action, the coordination of regional policy structures for the introduction of sustainable forest management will be improved, allowing sustainable management plans to be implemented. These will be implemented together with representatives of central and regional governments, the private sector and civil society. This strengthens performance and supports political processes.
The third field of action aims to improve the legal, institutional and financial frameworks for sustainable forest management. The project advises institutions such as the ministries of environment and agriculture on revising and adapting legal regulations, for example, to promote the processing and marketing of timber and non-timber products. With the help of new financing models and instruments, sustainable forest management is to be made attractive for local and regional actors.