Title

The Roots of Environmental Crime in the Columbian Amazon

Author Information

InSight Crime

Date of Publication

2021 12:00 AM

Security Theme

Illegal Mining

Keywords

Illegal mining, environmental crime, Columbia, Amazon, organized criminal groups, biodiversity loss

Description

Emerging from almost six decades of civil conflict, the world’s number one cocaine producer has paid scant attention to environmental crime. Yet Colombia is one of the most biodiverse nations on earth, boasting everything from tropical rainforests and deserts to open savannas and mountainous ecosystems. The country is the site of a wide range of environmental crimes, many of which go unreported. Southeastern Colombia forms part of the Amazon basin, and its lush jungles have rarely been controlled by the central government but rather been the refuge and preserve of non-state armed groups (NSAGs). The country is home to some 60 million hectares of forest, meaning over half of its territory is covered in trees. Colombia has the third-largest forested area in South America, trailing only Brazil and Peru. It also boasts the fifth-largest primary forest area of the continent, much of which lies in the Amazonian Basin. While this troubled Andean nation battles a wide array of pandemic and insecurity-related challenges, the prevalence of environmental crime – and its relevance as a source of income to some of the most powerful criminal groups in the country – is apparent. The Colombian government is fully aware of the growing importance of environmental crime and has designated it a threat to national security. But this designation has yet to translate into a coherent and consistent policy to tackle the many facets of environmental crime.

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Jan 1st, 12:00 AM

The Roots of Environmental Crime in the Columbian Amazon

Emerging from almost six decades of civil conflict, the world’s number one cocaine producer has paid scant attention to environmental crime. Yet Colombia is one of the most biodiverse nations on earth, boasting everything from tropical rainforests and deserts to open savannas and mountainous ecosystems. The country is the site of a wide range of environmental crimes, many of which go unreported. Southeastern Colombia forms part of the Amazon basin, and its lush jungles have rarely been controlled by the central government but rather been the refuge and preserve of non-state armed groups (NSAGs). The country is home to some 60 million hectares of forest, meaning over half of its territory is covered in trees. Colombia has the third-largest forested area in South America, trailing only Brazil and Peru. It also boasts the fifth-largest primary forest area of the continent, much of which lies in the Amazonian Basin. While this troubled Andean nation battles a wide array of pandemic and insecurity-related challenges, the prevalence of environmental crime – and its relevance as a source of income to some of the most powerful criminal groups in the country – is apparent. The Colombian government is fully aware of the growing importance of environmental crime and has designated it a threat to national security. But this designation has yet to translate into a coherent and consistent policy to tackle the many facets of environmental crime.