Cattle ranching plays a key role in the ongoing expansive deforestation taking place in the Amazon region of Colombia. Deforestation within two municipalities, La Macarena and San Vicente del Caguán, currently accounts for a disproportionately large percentage of all deforestation nationwide. With low productivity management systems of slash and burn ranching, large areas of forest are being appropriated and converted to ranching land. As a result, sustainable land use management within these municipalities is considered vital to addressing the threats posed by cattle ranching.
Within the project ‘Amazonía Sostenible para la Paz’ (Sustainable Amazon for Peace) led by UNDP Colombia, CSF conducted a study to understand the economic impacts of implementing sustainable cattle ranching practices in the region. Through scenario modeling and projections of financial costs and environmental impacts, this study outlined the financial trajectories of the current system versus one based on sustainable working landscapes, that incorporates better forage management, silvopasture areas, and water conservation practices. A target of zero-deforestation was built into the management practices to meet Colombia’s climate goals for the region and protect valuable ecosystem services that benefit both producers and adjacent communities. The results obtained showed that the implementation of these sustainable systems would take about seven years to financially break even, which makes it a challenging investment for producers. However, the environmental, economic, and social benefits generated are worthwhile. About 35 thousand hectares of forest could be protected, one thousand more annual jobs could be created, cattle ranching associations could receive an additional US$30,000 per year, and revenue for producers will eventually make it a profitable investment. Through a series of targeted recommendations, this project provided a roadmap to make these sustainable systems viable and scalable solutions for cattle ranching practices in the region.
Learn more about UNDP's TSA approach and the official TSA summary here.
Photo: Cattle in Colombia / Photo Credit: Luis Echeverri Urrea/ Shutterstock.com
Read the final report and policy brief (both in Spanish).