MESETAS, Colombia—La Macarena, a national park in Colombia on the northern fringe of the Amazon rainforest, is known for its colorful rivers, whose water refracts like a rainbow. Until the government signed a peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, in 2016, the area’s dense canopy of trees provided the ideal terrain for rebels to conceal their movements. For this reason, the FARC limited deforestation in the region during its more than 50-year insurgency.
But deforestation has spiked since the peace accords were signed. In 2021 alone, 174,000 hectares were lost, with wide-reaching consequences for the environment, as well as for Indigenous and other rural communities, many of which had to flee.
As a result, the government of newly elected President Gustavo Petro listed countering deforestation as one of its top priorities. “We are going to confront the uncontrolled deforestation of our forests and promote the development of clean and renewable energies,” Petro proclaimed during his inauguration.