The enduring conflict between the Colombian government and leftist FARC rebels has left deep scars on the heritage and the lives of its people, but it has also ravaged the face of this beautiful, biodiverse country. Indeed, the consequences of warfare on the environment are all too often ignored, with concerns about death tolls and human impact understandably taking centre stage.
However, the detrimental effect of war on the environment should not be underestimated. Besides widespread deforestation and the spread of harmful chemicals both to promote and deter illegal forms of agriculture and mining, armed skirmishes have also involved the deliberate explosion of several oil pipelines. It’s estimated that the equivalent of as many as 4.1 million barrels of oil has been spilled in the last 35 years alone.
In the 23 years from 1990 to 2013, 58% of all deforestation in the country took place in areas affected by the conflicts and for reasons relating directly to it. By bringing the war to an end, the government estimates it could save up to £1.8 billion per year.