Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 13, Issue 6, pp 1181–1193 | Cite as

National and regional determinants of tropical deforestation in Colombia

  • Dolors ArmenterasEmail author
  • Edersson Cabrera
  • Nelly Rodríguez
  • Javier Retana
Original Article


Global tropical deforestation continues to occur at high rates despite political attention. National-level forest baselines are being established all over the world to guide the implementation of several policy mechanisms. However, identifying the direct and indirect drivers of deforestation and understanding the complexity of their interlinkages are often difficult. We first analyzed deforestation between 1990 and 2005 at the national level and found an annual deforestation rate of 0.62 %. Next, we performed separate analyses for four natural regions in Colombia and found annual deforestation rates between 0.42 and 1.92 %. Using general linear models, we identified several direct causes and underlying factors influencing deforestation at the national level: rural population density, cattle, protected areas, and slope. Significant differences in deforestation rates and causes were found across regions. In the Caribbean region, drivers of loss are urban population, unsatisfied basic needs, slope, and precipitation and four land use variables (illicit crops, pastures, cattle, and fires). In the Orinoco region, crops are the main driver of forest loss, and in the Amazonian region, deforestation is primarily due to fires related to the colonization front. Policy mechanisms will have to take into account regional patterns to successfully balance development and forest preservation in Colombia.


Tropical forest Deforestation Drivers Heterogeneity Regional Colombia 



We thank the Instituto de Hidrología, Meteorología y Estudios Ambientales (IDEAM) for providing the deforestation data maps from the national Colombia REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) project funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and its team members Maria Claudia García, Maria Fernanda Ordoñez, Gustavo Galindo, and Diana Vargas. We also thank the MODIS team for providing continuous access to active fire datasets. Thanks to Carol Franco for her continuous support in data handling. We also want to thank you the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions to improve the quality of the paper. The research was funded by the Universidad Nacional de Colombia through the postdoctoral position of Nelly Rodríguez and a grant from the CONVOCATORIA NACIONAL PARA EL FORTALECIMIENTO DE ALIANZAS ESTRATÉGICAS INTERINSTITUCIONALES. UN - 2012, Project 12.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dolors Armenteras
    • 1
    Email author
  • Edersson Cabrera
    • 2
  • Nelly Rodríguez
    • 1
    • 3
  • Javier Retana
    • 3
  1. 1.Laboratorio de Ecología del Paisaje y Modelación de Ecosistemas, Departamento de Biología, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad Nacional de ColombiaBogotá D.CColombia
  2. 2.Proyecto REDDInstituto de Hidrología, Meteorología y Estudios Ambientales (IDEAM)Bogotá D.CColombia
  3. 3.CREAF i Unitat d’Ecología, Universitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBellaterra, BarcelonaSpain

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