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colombia: court overturns controversial forestry law

From the moment the bill to enact a General Forestry Law began its passage through the Colombian Congress more than three years ago, environmental organizations, black communities, peasant organizations, indigenous organizations and others opposed its adoption: it was considered a serious threat to the country’s natural heritage and community rights. Finally, however, the General Forestry Law was passed in April 2006.

colombia: court overturns controversial forestry law what happened?

Intense opposition to the new General Forestry Law continued unabated, from FoE Colombia/CENSAT Agua Viva and all the other organizations, movements and communities involved in the initial campaign.


Finally, on 23 January 2009, Colombia’s Constitutional Court agreed with the campaigners, declaring the law unconstitutional in its entirety and nullifying it. In a historic decision, the Court acknowledged that the bill was not based on consultation with the Indigenous and black peoples of the country, who are the rightful owners and custodians of a huge part of Colombia’s forests and are entitled to such consultation under ILO Convention 169, which is considered part of the Colombian Constitution. The Court’s decision also recognizes that forest are more than just timber: the General Forestry Law permitted concessions being granted to exploit vast areas of forest, and removed previous legislation which governed timber harvesting, without regard for the peoples or biodiversity of the forests.


what changed?

The combined and unfaltering efforts of the Colombian communities and organizations led to a significant legal decision acknowledging the rights of Indigenous Peoples and black communities. It also asserted that forests are more than just timber, and will help to ensure the conservation of forests and their cultures.


You can read the Court’s decision here:


with thanks to our funders: the dutch ministry of foreign affairs (dgis)

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