Environmental issues in Colombia

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Trash in the bay of Cartagena, Colombia (2005).
Pollution on the streets of Barranquilla.

There are many environmental issues in Colombia.

Current issues include deforestation resulting from timber exploitation in the jungles of the Amazon and the region of Chocó, illicit drug crops grown by peasants in the national parks of Serranía de la Macarena and Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, and soil erosion.

There is soil and water quality damage from contamination by the use of chemicals in the coca-refining process, spillage of crude oil into the local rivers as a result of guerrilla sabotage of pipelines, and overuse of pesticides, air pollution (especially in Bogotá) from vehicle emissions, and the preservation of wildlife.

Natural hazards include highlands subject to volcanic eruptions, occasional earthquakes, and periodic droughts.


Colombia loses 2,000 km2 of forest annually to deforestation, according to the United Nations in 2003.[1] Some suggest that this figure is as high as 3,000 km² due to illegal logging in the region.[1] Deforestation results mainly from logging for timber, small-scale agricultural ranching, mining, development of energy resources such as hydro-electricity, infrastructure, cocaine production, and farming.[1] Around one-third of the country's original forest has been removed as a result of deforestation.

Deforestation in Colombia is mainly targeted at primary rainforest which covers more than 80% of Colombia. This has a profound ecological impact in that Colombia is extremely rich in biodiversity, with 10% of the world's species, making it the second most biologically diverse country on Earth.[1]

Government response[edit]

New environmental protection legislation was enacted in 1991, including the creation of specially protected zones, of which more than 200 were created in the early 1990s, mostly in forest areas and national parks. As a result of this charter, the Ministry of the Environment was established in 1993, merging with the housing and drinking water division of the Ministry of Economic Development, Housing, and Potable Water in 2003.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Tropical rainforests: Colombia". Mongabay.com. Retrieved August 24, 2008. 

External links[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Library of Congress Country Studies.