An in-depth investigation by the World Wildlife Federation, WWF, has found that half of Colombia’s ecosystems are under serious threat.
The WWF said of the 85 individual ecosystems it studied — including high mountains, dry tropical forest and cloud forests — 20 are in a critical state of deterioration and 17 are in a state of danger.
Deteriorating ecosystems are threatening the existence of more than a third of Colombia’s plants, 50 percent of its animals and vital natural resources, such as drinking water.
Researchers found that in 26 distinct ecosystems across the country, including marine and coastal areas, 20 percent of the area has been wiped out.
The country is home to 41 natural parks, 11 fauna and flora sanctuaries, two natural reserves and five biosphere reserves that are all long established. It houses 10 percent of the world’s biodiversity and historically has had the highest number of amphibian and bird species in the world. Yet, population growth and over drilling for oil in Colombia’s Amazon region have deteriorated the environment exponentially over the past several decades.
The study also found that of 203 sage plant species, 35 are threatened, with 80 percent being endemic. Roughly 33 percent of 492 wild bromeliads in Colombia are threatened, over 75 percent of which are endemic.
Of Colombia’s 17 glacier-capped mountains, eight are melting. The WWF predicts that at the present rate of melting, there will no longer be ice caps by 2032.
The organization said that environmental degradation is due to licit oil extraction and illicit mineral and metal extraction, as well as illegal logging. Scientists stress that these human interventions are affecting the country’s water and land resources and are threatening Colombia’s food and water supplies.
The WWF proposed to fortify the protection of existing reserves and wildlife spaces and “end activities like illicit crops, illegal mining and the extraction and sale of wood.” The organization said that businesses need to do their part to create practices that preserve and protect the Colombian natural environment.