National Geographic (Washington D.C.: monthly circulation 8 million)
"Cocaine to Blame for Rain Forest Loss, Study Says"
February 18, 2011
Cocaine is destroying lives and tearing homes apart—and not simply because of drug use. Farming coca, the plant used to make cocaine, has been linked to rising deforestation rates in Colombian rain forests, a new study says. What's more, ecologist Liliana M. Dávalos and colleagues have for the first time quantified indirect deforestation tied to coca farming, such as clearing land for growing food crops near coca plantations. "In southern Colombia we found geographically that there is just more probability of losing the forest close to [coca cultivation]," said Dávalos, of the State University of New York in Stony Brook. "And the more coca around you, the more forest you're likely to lose—the sheer amount of coca in the vicinity has an effect." The new study, published January 11 in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, charted the pace of Colombian deforestation from 2002 to 2007 using satellite land-cover maps created specifically to monitor illicit crop growth.