Petro banking on payments to curb deforestation


By boosting payments to communities for environmental services, the government hopes to curb deforestation and slow the expansion of cattle ranching and other destructive activities in the Colombian Amazon. (Photo by Christina Noriega)

Colombia is dramatically increasing government payments to families that work to protect local forest, a move experts have welcomed but warn will likely face security challenges in parts of the Colombian Amazon. The Environment Ministry announced in November that the plan, Conservar Paga, or Conservation Pays, will start in the four Amazonian provinces hardest hit by deforestation—Caquetá, Meta, Guaviare, and Putumayo—then extend to municipalities on the Pacific Coast. It’s the most ambitious forest-conservation initiative yet from President Gustavo Petro, who took office in 2022 vowing to protect the Colombian Amazon. Consuming large swaths of Amazon rainforest and threatening its biodiversity, deforestation surpassed 150,000 hectares (370,000 acres) annually from 2016 until 2022, when it ticked down to 123,517 hectares (305,217 acres). The new plan triples monthly environmental services payments to participating families from 300,000 pesos (US$77) a month to 900,000 pesos (US$228) and expands the program... [Log in to read more]

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