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Thursday, 28 December, 2000, 05:20 GMT
Violence ravages Colombian landscape
Jungle AP
Most of the world's cocaine comes from Colombia
The army in Colombia has released a report that details the extensive environmental damage caused by the country's civil conflict and drug-trafficking.

The report - entitled The Scars on Mother Earth - says that in the past decade, the countryside has been polluted by more than two million tonnes of crude oil spilled in bomb attacks on Colombia's main pipelines.

Colombian rainforest BBC
Colombia's rich biodiversity is threatened
Thousands of hectares are said to have been cleared for drug plantations, leading to deforestation in the country's jungle areas, while chemicals used to process cocaine and heroin have contaminated soil and water supplies.

The army calculates that about 9,300 square kilometres (3,600 sq miles) of jungle and agricultural land has been lost in the past decade.

The head of the army's news agency, Jorge Alberto Florez, told the BBC that the problem had increased in the past few years.

Mr Florez said that the army's job was not only to fight, but also to protect the environment. Regions of Amazonas bordering Peru, Venezuela and Brazil are also said to be in "imminent danger".

Plan Colombia

Correspondents say the report paints a shocking picture of an unsuspected side effect of four decades of violence and internal strife in Colombia.

The Colombian Government has put in place a plan which calls for more than $1.5bn to be spent trying to eradicate the menace of drugs and the war surrounding their production and export.

The United States believes the 17,000-strong leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) plays a major role in drug production.

"Guerrillas and paramilitaries have caused this ecological catastrophe which ... if the current rate of deforestation continues, will turn half the country's jungles into pasture in 17 years," the report said.

Guerrillas have targeted oil, Colombia's main export, staging numerous assaults on oil pipelines.

According to the army report, crude oil has contaminated 2,600 km (1,625 miles) of river - equivalent to the total length of Colombia's two biggest rivers, the Cauca and the Magdalena. Slicks have reached up to 180 km (112 miles) in length.

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09 Dec 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
Despair over Colombian tragedy
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