Case Study

deforestation in colombia

Fighting illegal deforestation in colombia


In 2021, the Center for Climate Crime Analysis (CCCA) began its work in the Colombian Amazon. Following an assessment of the main drivers of deforestation in the country, our work has been focusing on cattle ranching.

CCCA has carried out an intense research activity, with the objective of reconstructing the traceability of the supply chain of the livestock industry in Colombia based on the location and distribution of the farms and the national and international commercial links associated with the sector.

CCCA’s objective in Colombia is to develop evidentiary dossiers to support legal and/or defense actions against actors that contribute to various effects to illegal deforestation, including in the supply chain, in Colombia or abroad, livestock from illegally deforested lands.

In line with our mission, CCCA proposes to support the work of institutions joining efforts in the fight against deforestation in the Colombian Amazon.

CCCA seeks to achieve this purpose through the generation, preservation and collection of evidence on illegal activities related to climate change, as well as the development of legal and forensic analysis of information from open sources and private search platforms, thus ensuring that the information collected is relevant, complete, and admissible in sanctioning and/or judicial proceedings.

The processing of the information collected has allowed the creation of a database of cattle movements and vaccination records, identification of properties with detailed location at the farm/land level and data on forest loss in the Colombian Amazon to detect the areas most affected by illegal deforestation linked to cattle ranching. The database includes the registration of millions of mobilizations, including cattle concentrations and processing plants, as well as thousands of vaccinations provided.


Phase I – Collection and processing of information


In the first phase of the research, CCCA has collected information with different methodologies and through a multitude of sources.

On the one hand, through public information surveys (OSINT), CCCA has collected data on deforestation, pasture areas, protected areas, territorial topography, livestock census, trends in the livestock industry, among others.

On the other hand, through more than 150 requests for access to information to different entities, CCCA has compiled data on the location of farms and vacant lots (Registro Sanitario Predio Pecuario – RSPP), cattle type and characteristics, linked individuals, vaccination (Registro Único de Vacunación – RUV), livestock movement (Guías Sanitarias de Movilización -GSMI), companies in the meat and meat products sector, among others.


Phase II – Geolocation and Traceability

Due to the lack of complete information on rural properties in Colombia, the main activity of the second phase of the research has been:

  • Geolocation of rural properties/land/properties linked to cattle ranching in the Amazon; Identification of farmers;
  • Identification of associated deforestation;
  • Relationship with protected areas;
  • Mobilization of livestock from deforested areas to processing plants and livestock concentrations.

For this analysis, a customized methodology was developed for the processing, systematization and analysis of big data.


Phase III – Commercial and legal links

During this phase, CCCA identified other actors involved in the livestock supply chain, in order to know the extent of the market related to the sector, the buyers and processors of meat products and derivatives, as well as the final destination of such products in the domestic and international markets.

To this end, CCCA submitted requests for access to information to various public entities in order to obtain details of companies engaged in the production and/or processing of beef and its by-products. CCCA also consulted export destinations and volumes, as well as all available information on importing companies abroad.

The information collected was complemented with data from open sources of information (OSINT) and other private databases.

The companies identified at this stage consist mainly of animal processing plant operators and manufacturers of meat products and by-products.

The identification of these companies made it possible to refine the traceability of the entities involved in the livestock supply chain, evidencing the link that exists between cattle from deforested areas of the Colombian Amazon and the companies in charge of processing and marketing meat products and derivatives, both nationally and internationally.


Investigative findings

The information gathered by CCCA has made it possible to identify the location of cattle ranches, the movement of cattle, linked individuals, information on the villages, associated deforestation, shipments to processing plants and cattle concentrations, and national and international trade links, among other findings.

The following is a representative case study of CCCA’s findings on the geo-referencing of farms and villages, traceability of meat products and by-products, as well as its commercial links with international companies.

The case study presents indications of illegal deforestation that would exceed 275 hectares in the San José village, Municipality of La Macarena, Department of Meta, as of 2016 (according to CCCA’s calculation of the extension of the property).

According to available information, between 2016 and 2022, the farm has vaccination records with maximums reaching 380 head of cattle per year.

The research outlined above allows for the identification of cattle ranches with illegal deforestation and associated livestock movements. CCCA has also developed a methodology to monitor the export of products abroad and complement the traceability work.


Estimated associated deforestation: 278 hectares

Praderization associated with deforestation

Location of property, barn and associated corrals (Satellite image contrasts)

The property in question shows cattle movements to farms, cattle concentrations and processing plants. In particular, there are mobilizations to a slaughterhouse in Colombia where, between 2019 and 2021, predio A has shipped more than 900 head of cattle.

In addition, the information collected identified shipments of cattle from the farm analyzed (and others) to processing plants with export authorization that would be supplying the meat derivatives industry at the expense of illegal deforestation in the Colombian Amazon.

CCCA has identified numerous shipments of meat derivatives from Colombia’s main companies to different countries, including the United States, Canada, Spain, among many others.