The consequences of peace and armed conflict for deforestation depend on the location. This is according to a study published in Frontiers in Environmental Science. Scientists used Colombia as a case study. This study presents one of the most comprehensive studies to date comparing forest loss to drivers. This includes coca cultivation and cattle farming during periods of peace and conflict. These insights will help make conservation efforts more effective. It will take into account the land use, politics and socioeconomics on a local level.
Half a century of conflict
Preserving Colombia’s tropical forests is critical. Its critical both for the climate and for the country’s wealth of biodiversity. Half a century of internal conflict has complicated conservation plans. Past research has proved that peace times often correlate with increased deforestation. The specific driving forces and impacts are not well understood.
Scientists followed the most recent peace agreement. The study combined regional datasets from 2001-2018 to model the relationships between deforestation, conflict events, displaced people, the size of municipalities, coca crops, number of cattle and cattle farms.
Coca farms and cattle ranching boost deforestation
The results confirmed a strong trend towards more forest loss after the peace agreement, at the national scale. It is mostly because of the increased numbers of coca farms and cattle. But the impact and leading causes varied significantly depending on the municipality area.
Cattle were the leading predictor in the Amazon. Coca cultivation was more dominant in the Andes. Scientists acquired historical data on smaller regional levels. It was one of the biggest challenges during this study. Scientists also plan to continue looking at an even more detailed level in the future.