Deforestation in Colombia Case
          CASE NUMBER:        165                
          CASE NAME:          Deforestation in Colombia

1.   The Issue
     Colombia's forests account for 49 percent of its total land
mass and 10 percent of the world's biodiversity, making it the
second most biodiverse country in the world in terms of species
per land unit.  Yet the country is experiencing large-scale
deforestation due to its ambitious plans to develop its economy
in order to become a competitive trade partner in the
international market.  Between 1.5 to 2.2 million acres are
deforested each year and, at this rate, Colombia's woodlands will
be depleted in forty years.  Such deforestation has increased the
rate of extinction for many plant and animal species, many of
which are endemic to the country.  Furthermore, the social and
economic fabrics of indigenous peoples who inhabit the forests
are rapidly being destroyed.
2.   Description
     Colombia's forests account for approximately 49 percent, or
131 million acres, of the country's total land mass (Central
Intelligence Agency, 88). Encompassing a mere 0.8 percent of the
world's land mass, Colombia's total forest coverage accounts for
10 percent of the earth's biodiversity.  Behind Brazil, the
country is considered the most biodiverse in the world in terms
of species per unit of area (UNCED, 13).     
     Colombia's forests are the home of 55,000 plant species,
one-third of which are endemic.  Over 2,000 plant species have
yet to be identified, and an even greater number have yet to be
analyzed for potential curative purposes.  The country also
possesses 358 mammal species, 15 percent of the world's primates,
and 18 percent of the world's birds.  Yet, currently 1,000 plant
species and 24 bird and mammal species are threatened with
extinction largely because of mass deforestation (UNCED, 13).  
     The forests are also inhabited by Colombia's indigenous and
much of its black population who secure their livelihoods through
sustainable means (UNCED, 13). Deforestation and human
encroachment has begun to erode the social and economic
structures of these communities.  Crime, alcoholism and domestic
violence has sharply increased in recent years.  Encroachment has
also increased the rate of migration (The Sunday Gazette Mail,
March 26, 1995). 
     Each year, a total of 1.5 to 2.2 million acres are lost to
deforestation (168 acres each hour).  At this rate, Colombia's
woodlands will be depleted in 40 years (World Press Review, 43).
Already one-third of the country's original forest lands have
been felled (Republic of Colombia National Planning Department,
     Colombia's Pacific region consists of lush rainforests and
contains most of the country's natural resources.  Under
Colombia's ambitious plans to develop their economy, the area has
become targeted for the extraction and exportation of natural
resources in the last ten years.  The scheme is known as Plan
Pacifico (Barnes, 135).
     Under the plan, one hundred and sixty thousand hectares
(about 2.2 percent of the total forest area) are destroyed each
year for wood and paper or to make way for agro-industrial
production of African palm.  There has been a considerable drop
in mangrove coverage with the installation of commercial shrimp
farms, and massive sedimentation and mercury contamination in
rivers has been caused by deforestation and uncontrolled mining. 
Riverbanks have also been eroded which has caused river beds to
drop, threatening fish stocks and the ability of communities to
transport goods (Barnes, 135-136).
     Another objective of Plan Pacifico is to link a 54 kilometer
missing section of the Panamerican Highway between Colombia and
Panama in order to foster trade.  Road construction, along with
rapid regional development that will ensue, will result in
massive deforestation.  The road, which spans from Alaska down to
Cape Horn, would pass through the Darien Gap which is one of the
region's richest in flora and fauna (Barnes, 136).  The
government is considering less environmentally destructive
alternatives that have been proposed such as linking the road
through ferry terminals along the Caribbean coast (Kendall, July
20, 1994).  With widespread national and international attention,
the government is planning a US$1 million study of the
environmental impact of the road before it makes a final decision
(The Sunday Gazette Mail, March 26, 1995) (see PANAM case).
     More than 100,000 acres are deforested each year to grow
coca, marijuana, and opium poppies.  Paradoxically, the drug war
waged by the US and Colombian governments has exacerbated
deforestation and loss of biodiversity.  Growers have been pushed
higher up the slopes and in to more remote, virgin forests of the
Andes (aided by an increase in opium cultivation which favors
higher altitudes) as a means of escaping the law.  Seventy three
percent of the Andes, an area that is vital to the conservation
of Colombia's water supply, has been deforested as a result of
both migration and drug cultivation (World Press Review, 43) (see
COLCOCA case).
     Poverty and unequal land distribution have escalated
deforestation.  In rural areas, 3 percent of the landed elite own
71.3 percent of arable land while 57 percent of the poorest
farmers must subsist off of a mere 2.8 percent of the land
(Conniff, 27). The situation has been exacerbated by Colombia's
attempts to develop their market economy with cash crops for
export while ignoring and further marginalizing small farmers. 
As a result, much of the country's deforestation is caused by
land settlement.  Each year settlers cut down 988,000 acres,
converting the land to fields and pastures.  Much of the
settlement occurs from poor farmers who have been left with no
alternatives because they have been unable to subsist from their
meager plots of land (World Press Review, 43) (see COCA case).
     Competition for access to the Colombian market has increased
and transnational corporations are already taking an active role
in Colombia's deforestation through oil extraction and mineral
mining.  The Japanese government is currently financing the
construction of a road which links the Pacific coast to inland
forest regions, allowing for easier trade access between the two
countries.  Furthermore, the road will increase the influx of
people in to the area, spurring economic development and
deforestation (UNCED, 56).
3.   Related Cases

COCA case
PANAM case

     Keyword Clusters    
     (1): Trade Product            = FORESTS
     (2): Bio-geography            = TROPICAL [TROP]
     (3): Environmental Problem    = Species Loss Land [SPLL]
4.   Draft Author: Colleen Tighe
B.   LEGAL Clusters
5.   Discourse and Status:  AGReement and COMPlete
     Alarmed by black and indigenous peoples' mobilization to
protect their land rights, President Gaviria placed an article in
the 1990 constitution that recognized Colombia for the first time
as a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural nation and placed 90 percent
of indigenous homelands under indigenous control (though
Colombia's black populations received less of a fair deal)
(Barnes, 136).  In reality, however, these lands are not
protected and the government is incapable of curtailing illegal
logging, agricultural colonization, and drug cultivation in
remote areas.
     The same holds true for national parks.  Colombia has
attempted to protect vast tracts of land through the creation of
national parks, however, the selling of protected land titles
though government corruption is not uncommon.  For example, the
government converted the Tayrona forest of Colombia's Atlantic
Coast in to a national park in 1980.  When the park was created,
90 percent of the land was under government control.  By the end
of the decade, 80 percent had been expropriated through illegal
invasion or the selling of titles through administrative
corruption (International Environmental Reporter, January 25.
1995: 69).  Thus, although there is agreement and the issue is
deemed complete, it is more a matter of lip service through law
rather than actual enforcement.
6.   Forum and Scope:  COLOMBIA and UNILATeral
7.   Decision Breadth:  1 (COLOMBIA)
8.   Legal Standing:  LAW
C.   GEOGRAPHIC Clusters
9.   Geographic Locations
     a.   Geographic Domain : South America [SAMER]
     b.   Geographic Site   : Northern South America [NSAMER]
     c.   Geographic Impact : COLOMBIA
10.  Sub-National Factors:  NO
11.  Type of Habitat:  TROPICAL RAINY FOREST [TROP]
D.   TRADE Clusters
12.  Type of Measure:  Regulatory Standard [REGSTD]
     By creating laws to protect from deforestation, the
Colombian government has created a regulatory standard by which
deforestation can only occur in specific areas and under
controlled situations.   
13.  Direct vs. Indirect Impacts:  INDirect
14.  Relation of Measure to Environmental Impact
     a.  Directly Related     : YES  WOOD
     b.  Indirectly Related   : NO
     c.  Not Related          : NO
     d.  Process Related      : YES  Species Loss Land [SPLL]
15.  Trade Product Identification:  WOOD
16.  Economic Data
     Colombia's four largest legal exports are oil, cut flowers,
coffee, and bananas.  Perhaps Colombia's largest export, though
difficult to ascertain, is the drug industry.  It has been
estimated that the amount of profit returning to the country each
year through drug trafficking ranges from US$1 billion to US$7
billion (Whynes, 135-136).  All of these are primary products and
relate to deforestation (see FLOWER
     Income disparity is enormous: the top 20 percent of
housholds earn six to seven times as much as the bottom 20
percent.  Likewise for land distribution, 3 percent of the landed
elite own 71.3 percent of arable land while 57 percent of the
poorest farmers own 2.8 percent of the land.  According to the
World Bank, 19 percent of the population lives below the
subsistence level, 75 percent of whom live in rural areas (The
World Bank, "Trends in Developing Economies," 108).
17.  Impact of Measure on Trade Competitiveness:  MEDIUM
18.  Industry Sector:  WOOD
19.  Exporter and Importer:  COLOMBIA and USA
20.  Environmental Problem Type:  Species Loss Land [SPLL]
21.  Name, Type, and Diversity of Species 
          Name:          Plant and Animal Species
          Type:          Many
          Diversity:     Yes
     Colombia accounts for 10 percent of the world's biodiversity
and possesses 55,000 plant species, one third of which are
endemic, 358 mammal species, 15 percent of the world's primates
and 18 percent of the world's birds.  One thousand plant species
and 24 bird and mammal species are currently threatened with
22.  Impact and Effect:  HIGH and PRODuct
23.  Urgency and Lifetime:  HIGH and 40 years
     Given Colombia's current deforestation rates, forests will
be depleted in 40 years.
24.  Substitutes:  Conservation [CONSV]
     Rather than deforesting the land to deplete non-renewable
resources, Colombia has an abundance of renewable resources, such
as spices, nuts, and rubber trees, that can be sustainably
exploited.  Conservation International, a Washington, DC based
environmental group, is currently trying to revive the market for
tagua nuts, the seed of a rainforest palm, to make buttons
(Miller, 13).  
     Importing countries can also participate by creating
incentives.  For example, Colombia is currently exporting oils
produced from organically grown plants with an environmentally
conscious Belgian soap manufacturer called Ecover.  Because such
trade is considered eco-friendly, Colombia has been granted
exemption from EC import duties on these products (French, 107).
VI.  OTHER Factors
25.  Culture:  NO
26.  Trans-Border:  NO
27.  Rights:  YES
28.  Relevant Literature

Barnes, Jon.  "Driving Roads through Land Rights: The Colombian
     Plan Pacifico," The Ecologist, v23n4 (July/August 1993),
     pp. 135-140.
Central Intelligence Agency.  The World Factbook: 1994.
Conniff, Ruth.  "Colombia's Dirty War, Washington's Dirty Hands,"
     Progressive, v56n5 (May 1992), pp. 20-27.
French, Hillary.  Costly Tradeoffs: Reconciling Trade and the
     Environment, Worldwatch Paper 113, Worldwatch Institute:
     Washington, DC, 1993.
International Environment Reporter, January 25, 1995.
Kendall, Sarita.  "Uniting the Americas: A Look at Controversial
     Plans to Complete a Highway Linking Colombia to Panama,"
     Financial Times, July 20, 1994.
Miller, Susan Katz.  "Palm Nuts to Help Crack Poverty Problem,"
     New Scientist v140n1899 (November 13, 1993), pp. 13.
Republic of Colombia National Planning Department.  "An
     Environmental Policy for Colombia," (August 1, 1991),
     Document DNP-2544-DEPAC.
The Sunday Gazette Mail.  "Age-old Question Blocks Highway,"
     The Sunday Gazette Mail, March 26, 1995.
UNCED.  Colombia National Report for UNCED, 1992.
Whynes, David K.  "The Colombian Cocaine Trade and the War on
     Drugs," The Colombian Economy: Issues of Trade and
     Development, Westview Press Inc., 1992, pp. 329-352.
The World Bank.  Trends in Developing Economies, World Bank
     Publishers: Washington, DC, 1994.
World Press Review.  "Colombia's Vanishing Forests," World Press
     Review, v40n6, June 1993, pp. 43.

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