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Study Reveals Peace in Colombia Has an Unexpected Result – Deforestation

Deforestation
Deforestation
Deforestation was an unexpected and common occurrence after peace was established in Columbia.

STONY BROOK, NY, November 30, 2018 – Armed conflicts can have devastating effects on nature, but what happens when war ends?  In a first-of-a-kind study published Nature Ecology & Evolution, scientists provide evidence that implementing the peace accords in Colombia coincided with a spike of fires and deforestation in protected areas. According to co-author Liliana Dávalos, PhD, a Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution in the College of Arts and Sciences at Stony Brook University, the findings are a wake-up call to ecologists and officials in countries affected by war and guerrilla warfare because it will take more than achieving peace to protect forests.

Using satellite imagery and models, Professor Dávalos together with authors Dolors Armenteras and Laura Schneider found a six-fold increase in fires in protected areas across biodiversity hotspots in Colombia, and modeled an estimate of 52 percent in the probability deforestation from 2017 to 2018 with national parks formerly controlled by guerrillas. The reasons for the increase in fires and deforestation are not clear, though deliberate clearing to establish pastures and similar forms of agriculture is a likely explanation.

Professor Dávalos emphasizes the findings suggest it is not enough to declare an area protected in countries rich with forests and natural resources. Indeed, urgent shifts by government must include real-time forest monitoring, expansion of programs to pay for ecosystem services, and engaging local community including former combatants in conservation.

The research is supported in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA.

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Stony Brook University is going beyond the expectations of what today’s public universities can accomplish. Since its founding in 1957, this young university has grown to become one of only four University Center campuses in the State University of New York (SUNY) system with more than 25,700 students, 2,500 faculty members, and 18 NCAA Division I athletic programs. Our faculty have earned numerous prestigious awards, including the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, Indianapolis Prize for animal conservation, Abel Prize and the inaugural Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics. The University offers students an elite education with an outstanding return on investment: U.S.News & World Report ranks Stony Brook among the top 40 public universities in the nation. Its membership in the Association of American Universities (AAU) places Stony Brook among the top 62 research institutions in North America. As part of the management team of Brookhaven National Laboratory, the University joins a prestigious group of universities that have a role in running federal R&D labs. Stony Brook University is a driving force in the region’s economy, generating nearly 60,000 jobs and an annual economic impact of $4.65 billion. Our state, country and world demand ambitious ideas, imaginative solutions and exceptional leadership to forge a better future for all. The students, alumni, researchers and faculty of Stony Brook University are prepared to meet this challenge.

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