Fires in protected areas reveal unforseen costs of Colombian peace

Armed conflict, and its end, can have powerful effects on natural resources, but the influence of war and peace on highly biodiverse tropical forests remains disputed. We found a sixfold increase in fires in protected areas across biodiversity …

Disabusing cocaine: Pervasive myths and enduring realities of a globalised commodity

For more than 30 years Colombia has waged an internal War on Drugs with the support of the interna- tional community. During this time, the illegal economy has evolved toward integrating cultivation with processing and trafficking, making Colombia the largest grower of coca in the world. The environmental impact of coca production and processing is vast, accounting for large quantities of toxic chemicals directly dumped onto the soil and watersheds, as well as most deforestation since the 1990s. The policies pursued to stem the coca economy, however, are based on unfounded assumptions about the behaviour of coca growers in the context of international markets. Despite their unfounded premises, these assumptions have acquired a mythical stature. In this article we review the most persistent myths about coca produc- tion with a view to understanding its links to environmental degradation. To this end, we present data on the economic and demographic background of coca growers, their impact on the environment, and their behaviour in the larger context of international markets and current eradication policies.

Forests in the Time of Violence: Conservation Implications of the Colombian War

Forest remnants in the Colombian Amazon, Andes, and Chocó are the last repositories of a highly diverse and endemic biota. Historical changes in the Colombian landscape have been dramatic, but the magnitude and rate of change has increased over the …

Regulating access to genetic resources under the Convention on Biological Diversity: an analysis of selected case studies

In 1992 parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) agreed to develop and implement policies to regulate and facilitate access to genetic resources (AGR). We examine regulations and agreements in Brazil, Colombia, and the Philippines in detail and discuss how these countries are implementing the AGR mandate. In particular, we evaluate progress toward achieving the CBD objectives of conserving biological diversity, using its components in a sustainable manner, and equitably sharing the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. We highlight the difficulties in developing and implementing these policies, arising from the conflicting goals of regulating and facilitating AGR, as well as the special character of genetic resources, existing ex situ collections, issues of ownership and tenure, and the dearth of legal, institutional, and scientific capacity in many countries. We recommend (1) independent, multidisciplinary evaluation of the success of the access policy in achieving CBD objectives, (2) resolution of the conflict between traditional land tenure and legal property rights of genetic resources so as to match conservation obligations with benefit-sharing rights, (3) recognition that benefits obtained from AGR may be entirely non-monetary, and (4) that countries provide a 'two-track’ AGR application process separately for commercial and non-commercial users.