Campesinos and cattle ranchers in Colombia’s Amazon are joining forces with businesses and research institutions to tackle deforestation in the region. Deforestation in Colombia’s Amazon for 2018 was approximately 200,000 hectares (494,000 acres), nearly the size of Luxembourg. In Caquetá, Colombia’s second-biggest cattle region, which produces 1.7 million liters (450,000 gallons) of milk per day and represents 22,500 ranchers, a zero deforestation agreement has been signed by the region’s cattle ranchers’ committee, the government, unions, civil society organizations, top chefs, and restaurants. A 20-year study by the Amazonian Scientific Research Institute SINCHI shows how agroforestry, silvopastoralism and enrichment can preserve the fragile Amazonian soils while also being highly profitable, with returns on investment ranging from 10% to 16% and net earnings of $13,200 per hectare after 20 years. In December 2019, sitting on the wooden patio of his hilltop cabin, the Amazonian forest buzzing in the background, Rodrigo Trujillo reflects on his 25 years growing coca, the raw ingredient for cocaine. The distant hillsides are thickly wooded, and Trujillo is reforesting the closer slopes for planned ecotourism projects. And in front of the cabin lies a pepper field that he harvests from to sell to a well-known Colombian restaurant […]

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