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Cocaine and Deforestation in Columbia

Over a million acres of rainforest were lost in Columbia last year.

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After 52 years of conflict, Columbia has reached a fragile peace. But that peace has come at a cost the deforestation and an increase in the production of cocaine.

Here are two of the more alarming statistics:

  • The number of new cocaine users in the United States has risen by 81 percent since 2013 while overdose deaths have doubled. Cocaine in the U.S. comes largely from Columbia.
  • In 2017, Columbia lost more than a million acres of forest cover. That’s a problem because the rainforests help offset carbon emissions and are also home to many unique species of plants and animals.

Cocaine Production in Columbia

So what does deforestation and cocaine production have to do with Columbia’s new peace agreement?

It’s a long story, but the short version is that the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia once occupied vast sections of the Columbian Amazon. Their presence helped keep other groups out of the forests.

Once the revolutionaries reached a peace agreement, however, the land where they had camped and fought was up for grabs. Heavily armed rebel groups came in and began clearing the forests to make way for coca plants and cattle ranching. Both require clearing the land.

The result is not only a threat to the many species of animals and plants found in the rainforest, but also a possible change in the global climate as carbon levels increase.

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