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  • Forests in the province of Caqueta, Colombia on June 7, 2017.

    Forests in the province of Caqueta, Colombia on June 7, 2017. | Photo: REUTERS.

Published 18 August 2017

While nearly half of Colombia's identified ecosystem zones are in danger of collapse, only a tiny percentage of those are afforded state protection.

Nearly half of the various ecosystems found in Colombia, one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, are at severe risk of collapsing, a recent study warned.

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A study at the Humboldt Institute at Javeriana University in Bogota, Colombia, called the “Red List of Ecosystems of Colombia,” identified risk levels of Colombia's diverse ecological zones. The results of the study gave a dire picture; of the 81 ecosystems identified by researchers, 46 percent of them were categorized as either “endangered,” or “critically endangered.”

“To reach a critical state means that we have already lost a large part of these ecosystems, up to 90 percent, which is very dramatic,” Andres Etter, a professor in the Department of Ecology and Territory at Javeriana, and co-author of the study said.

Of the 81 ecosystems, 19 are classified as “endangered,” and another 19 are in critical condition. Only 16 percent of the endangered or critically endangered sites are provided any sort of state protection from further damage.

Those areas that currently run the greatest risk of ecological destruction are mostly within the Caribbean coastal regions and the Andean regions, such as the tropical dry forest biome, the topical desert, the Andean dry intrazonal regions, and the piedmont ridge forests.

According to researchers who led the study, the aim of the project was to provide a well-researched and concrete list of zones in greatest need of protection so that environmental policy-making can be more well-informed.

The Humboldt Institute argues that while much research and government environmental policy focuses on individual species of plants and animals that are in danger, it is just as important, if not more important to emphasize the safety of entire ecosystems from a more systemic perspective.

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