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Color Icon Venezuela:
Deforestation and the Politics of Land Ownership

Case Study Report

Color Icon Issues (and links to Agenda 21): Indicators

Color Icon Summary:   Most of the population of Venezuela lives north of the Orinoco river, and as a consequence most of the past deforestation occurred in this area. Nevertheless, during the last 10-15 years deforestation increased dramatically in the big forest reserves south of the Orinoco. This development is enhanced by illegal and legal gold and diamonds mining. Some of the reserves north of the Orinoco river are almost completely deforestated. For example, less than 8% of the original Turen reserve is still covered by forest, and it seems that 50% of San Camilo reserve is already deforestated. Something similar happened to the Ticoporo reserve, which in parts is completely used for agriculture.

The study will focus on the Caparo reserve, a typical Venezuelan forestry reserve located in the western Llanos (plain) of Venezuela close to the Colombian border. The Caparo reserve was established in 1961 and has an extend of 1.743 km2. During its first years, it was the least deforestated reserve in western Venezuela, mostly due to difficult access conditions, especially during the raining season when the forest is inundated. However, in less than 30 years, around 50% of the reserve has come under pressure by small peasants, large farmers and timber companies. As a consequence, the rate of deforestation increased very quickly.

Objectives:   The main objectives of this study are to collect data pertaining to the problem of deforestation the Caparo reserve, and to apply them in the context of the GAIA information system for educational and planning purposes.

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