The University of Arizona

Reducing deforestation in Colombia while building peace and pursuing business as usual extractivism?

Torsten Krause


In this article, I examine the contradictions and tensions in Colombia's simultaneous embrace of REDD+ and a peace-building process premised on continued extractivism. Colombia is emerging from an internal conflict that lasted more than 50 years. In this process rural land-use is being transformed, generating new conflicts over land use and control with detrimental effects on Colombia's forests. Based on official documents, reports, existing scholarly work, interviews and observations collected during fieldwork in the Colombian Amazon, I analyze the ways in which peace-building and post-conflict transition have precipitated factors which have aggravated land conflicts and led to the escalation of deforestation in Colombia. I argue that Colombia's current REDD+ efforts mainly serve to attract international funding and legitimize the status quo since they remain disconnected from the structural processes that directly and indirectly drive deforestation. As such, REDD+ in Colombia contributes to a contradictory neoliberal approach to development, which promises to safeguard the environment, while supporting large-scale extractive industries, mining, cattle ranching and intensive agriculture, resulting in the increase in deforestation and forest degradation.

Key Words: Colombia, post-conflict, peace-building, extractivism, deforestation, REDD+

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