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Tropical Forests in Latam And The Threats That They Face

The protection of the great lungs of these countries represents a global challenge in the face of the threat of their growing destruction .

view of the amazon

Photo: Unsplash

LatinAmerican Post | Luis Ángel Hernández Liborio

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Leer en español: Bosques tropicales de Colombia, Brasil, Perú y México: entre la amenaza y la esperanza

A recent report by the World Resources Institute (WRI) highlights the importance of the tropical forests of Colombia, Mexico, Brazil and Peru as a barrier to curbing the effects of climate change, by capturing a large part of the greenhouse gas emissions generated in these countries. However, it also emphasizes the danger they are in and the importance of protecting them from the threat of deforestation.

The great lungs of America threatened

According to the WRI, more than 3 billion people in the world suffer the effects of deforestation, which affects food production, water availability and, of course, the economic and environmental environment. Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Peru are among the megadiverse countries, a list that also includes Ecuador and Venezuela. The importance of its forests and jungles is not only strategic for the region but for the entire world. Their importance is not only environmental, but also economic and social, since they are mainly inhabited by indigenous communities whose survival is linked to the natural regions. Deforestation, mining and ranching, among other problems, constantly threaten these lungs of the planet.

The Lacandon jungle, the Mayan world in danger

In contrast to the traditional images of Mexico linked to the deserts of the north, the country is one of the countries with the highest density of forests and jungles in the world. Of its 137 million hectares of forest area, 64 million correspond to forests of different types, according to data from the Mexican government. One of the most important areas is the Lacandona jungle located in the south of the country and which is part of a larger region called the Maya Jungle that covers the Yucatan Peninsula, Chiapas and a part of Central America, which makes it a sink for important carbon . One of the most criticized projects in the country is the Mayan Train, an extensive railway network of 1,460 km that threatens Mayan species, communities and archaeological treasures, adding to the already existing deforestation and pollution.

You can also read: 99% of Humanity Breathes Polluted Air

The threat to the Chiribiquete forest in Colombia

The geographical location and climatic conditions of Colombia make it one of the countries with the greatest biodiversity in the world. The jungles and tropical forests of Colombia have incalculable value for the region and the world. However, from 1990 to 2020, its forest area has been reduced from 64.96 million hectares to 59.14 million, according to information from Statista, a constant drop that threatens its survival. Chiribiquete is the largest National Natural Park of tropical jungle in the world and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this measures the importance of this ecosystem for the entire region. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has denounced that the national park is threatened by the constant deforestation caused by irregular settlements, illegal cattle ranching and clandestine logging that despite the status of the park has reduced its surface year after year.

The Amazon is in danger of indifference

The big problem is, of course, the extension of the Amazon that extends through countries such as Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia. The protection of such a complex and extensive ecosystem becomes a difficult task, in the face of threats from illegal mining, logging, ranching and agriculture. However, this is only part of the problem, the other part is the indifference of governments to the complaints of activists and indigenous communities settled for centuries in the forests and jungles. One of the signs of indifference is Brazil, as President Jair Bolsonaro came to power with the idea of exploiting the Amazon, instead of protecting it. The serious fires of 2019, the proposed law to exploit resources on indigenous lands and the authorization of mines in the jungle worry the world.

Peru is also part of the Amazon where the same problems have a negative effect: illegal logging, mining and fires that, according to the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, produce three times more CO2 than the jungle itself is capable of absorbing. Brazil, Peru, Mexico and Colombia are signatories to the Paris Agreement and the Glasgow Declaration of the COP26, where they committed to stopping and reversing the deforestation of their forests before 2030, a fact that looks distant 8 years from the date limit and which is essential to limit global warming.