Advocating for community rights and partnering with Colombian civil society to investigate illegal land acquisition and forest destruction
Land at the heart of rich cultural and natural diversity
At the intersection of the Central American Corridor, the Pacific tropics, the Amazon Basin, and the Andes Mountains, Colombia is home to a wide range of ecosystems and striking biodiversity. Approximately 10% of the world’s plant and animal species are in Colombia, and forests cover 54.5% of the country.
More than half of Colombia’s forests are located in Indigenous and Afro-Colombian territories, whose rights to land are enshrined in national law. Even with these legal protections, Colombia’s decades-long armed conflict has displaced more than 6 million people from rural lands.
Threats to forests and ecosystems
Colombia’s forests are under threat from rapidly growing industrial agriculture to produce commodities like palm oil, and from illegal logging and mining. These activities have contributed to massive internal displacement of local communities. The Colombian government estimates that over 300,000 hectares of natural forest are lost each year to deforestation.
Agro-industrial takeover of rural landscapes
Colombia is the fourth largest producer of palm oil in the world and the biggest palm oil producer in Latin America. Despite serious concerns about deforestation and forced displacement affiliated with the expansion of oil palm, the Colombian government is supporting efforts to increase the country’s palm oil production six-fold by 2020.
EIA Partners in Colombia
EIA is partnering with Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz (The Inter-Church Commission for Justice and Peace) to document palm oil expansion in Colombia and associated violations of human rights and environmental damages. Justice and Peace accompanies communities affected by violence, providing on-site accompaniment, legal, and psychosocial support.
The Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz has brought crimes associated with palm oil expansion in Colombia to light. Justice and Peace was instrumental in a case in the Colombian courts against 19 palm oil businessmen, 16 of whom were imprisoned on charges of conspiracy, forced displacement, and invasion of areas of special ecological importance.
- Prevent the illegal expansion of agro-industrial commodity crops, such as palm oil, and their affiliated production, over forests, community lands, and delicate ecosystems
- Advocate for protection of environmental leaders defending Colombia’s forests and natural ecosystems
- Strengthen civil society capacity to investigate illegal logging and other drivers of deforestation