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Colombia: Forestry and Fishing
Country Study > Chapter 3 > The Economy > Agriculture > Forestry and Fishing


Numerous types of tropical forests covered Colombia; most, however, remained unexploited for commercial use. In the late 1980s, commercially viable forest tracts may have covered as much as 78 million hectares, with between 500,000 and 1 million hectares logged each year. Although more than 1,000 types of tree grew in Colombia, only 30 types had commercial value. Replanting occurred infrequently, and in the late 1980s only one hectare in ten received any type of restoration treatment, largely because of poor government regulation of the logging industry.

Colombia produced wood in the late 1980s for construction and crafts and also supplied fuel wood and wood pulp for heating and printing. Lumber production was, however, a minor industry in Colombia, limited in part by the country's terrain.

The vast Amazon region of southeastern Colombia was one of the most heavily wooded areas in the country. Large-scale logging had not yet been very successful, however, because of the low value attached to most tropical woods and because usable trees grew among less valuable ones. Nonetheless, because of the development of new processes to make cardboard and other stiff paper products from some tropical trees, such as the cecropia, loggers became more interested in opening new areas of the Amazon for logging in the late 1980s. Once initially logged, these areas could then be replanted with a single type of tree for future exploitation.

Colombia still supported only a fledgling fishing industry despite long coastlines on two oceans and extensive inland river and lake networks. In 1984 approximately 100,000 tons of fish were caught, more than half from freshwater inland sources. The fishing industry constituted less than 1 percent of GDP and did not meet the domestic demand for fish. Commercial fishing for export was restricted to small businesses pursuing shrimp and oysters. Most canned commercial fish, such as tuna and sardines, were consumed domestically.

Despite its lack of development, ocean fishing represented one of the most promising industries in Colombia. The government targeted Buenaventura, a large port on the Pacific coast, for expanded facilities to support both domestic and foreign fishing vessels. Planned development included the addition of docks, refrigerated storage facilities, and canning and oil-processing plants. The potential ocean catch was estimated to be as large as 240,000 tons, or ten times the amount of fish caught in 1986.

Data as of December 1988

Last Updated: December 1988

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Colombia was first published in 1988. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

Colombia Main Page Country Studies Main Page

Section 92 of 188


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