VENEZUELA

By Rhett Butler   |   Venezuela, one of the ten most biodiverse countries on Earth, is home to extensive rainforests ranging from cloud forests of the coastal mountain ranges to the rainforests of the Guiana shield and Amazon basin. Venezuela has more than 21,000 species of plants, 353 mammal species, 323 reptile species, 1,400 bird species, and 288 amphibians.

Forest cover and loss in Venezuela

Using a ten percent tree cover as a threshold, forests and plantations covered nearly two-thirds of Venezuela's land mass, or about 59 million hectares, in 2012, according to researchers led by Matt Hansen (2013). Dense forests — areas with more than 50 percent tree cover — amounted to just under 54 million hectares.

The largest extent of forests in Venezuela are found in Bolivar, which accounts for about a third of the country's forests. Amazonas is second with about 30 percent of Venezuela's forest cover.

Hansen's research shows that Venezuela lost 1.25 million hectares of forest cover, or 2.1 percent, between 2001-2012.

Total forest areaDense forest areaForest gainForest lossTotal land area
>10% tree cover (ha)% total land cover>50% tree cover (ha)% total land cover2001-2012 (ha)% total forest cover2001-2012 (ha)% total forest cover(ha)
Amazonas1764649897.0%1746186495.9%1730445598.1%644040.4%18201001
Anzoátegui170663736.8%127628427.5%75322144.1%1080656.3%4643486
Apure168828123.5%114177715.9%78505246.5%604963.6%7174841
Aragua39680757.9%28521741.6%18618446.9%111312.8%685865
Barinas144732340.2%104353629.0%70095548.4%950936.6%3602000
Bolivar1942175482.5%1876021579.6%1833711594.4%2310711.2%23553487
Carabobo23478953.2%18111641.0%14320661.0%41261.8%441361
Cojedes69168547.9%50418034.9%31830246.0%175482.5%1443283
Delta Amacuro342869588.3%336954686.8%332130096.9%108750.3%3882978
Distrito Capital1720552.5%1258138.4%837248.7%1851.1%32753
Falcón111356941.3%81757930.3%57588951.7%714426.4%2699558
Guсrico178406526.9%107269116.2%43459524.4%872724.9%6640976
Lara81866443.1%55636029.3%39243847.9%339984.2%1901641
Mérida85344266.5%73292157.1%57967867.9%200792.4%1282709
Miranda72192184.9%65675877.2%58505681.0%186842.6%850334
Monagas138709848.4%121762242.5%106674376.9%14141410.2%2866532
Nueva Esparta1770017.6%1078210.7%728341.1%1210.7%100483
Portuguesa86192244.6%68780135.6%47358354.9%554296.4%1934192
Sucre87846682.3%81320876.1%75130685.5%199812.3%1067948
Tсchira74525169.2%61718757.3%51259068.8%340004.6%1076809
Trujillo51075763.3%41602551.5%32035462.7%182623.6%807327
Vargas8395884.9%7665477.5%6832081.4%10941.3%98856
Yaracuy38482462.0%32797852.8%27465371.4%116673.0%620965
Zulia201212746.2%170424739.1%146562972.8%1286386.4%4353233
Peru5885343865.4%5374412859.7%4936627883.9%12450732.1%89962615


Cattle ranching is the biggest driver of deforestation in Venezuela. In the 1980s and 1990s, gold mining and logging were important causes of deforestation and forest degradation, but logging has dwindled in recent years. Gold mining still causes intense damage where it occurs, but limited to southern reaches of the country. There is potential to expand coal and bauxite mining in the country, potentially putting forests at risk.

In the mid-2000s, former president Hugo Chavez proposed a controversial pipeline that would run 5,000 miles south through the heart of the Amazon rainforest. But the project failed to get off the ground.

On paper Venezuela has protected more than a third of its land mass in its system of parks and reserves. But many of these protected areas have suffered from incursion by illegal loggers and miners.

Charts showing forest cover and loss in Venezuela











Venezuela environmental news | XML | pictures

Venezuela Forest Figures

Forest Cover
Total forest area: 47,713,000 ha
% of land area: 54.1%
Primary forest cover: n/a
% of land area: n/a
% total forest area: n/a
Deforestation Rates
Annual change in forest cover: -287,600 ha
Annual deforestation rate: -0.6%
Change in rate 90-00 vs 00-05: 5.9%
Annual loss of primary forests: n/a
Annual deforestation rate: n/a
Change in rate 90-00 vs 00-05: n/a
Forest Classification
Public: n/a
Private: n/a
Other: n/a

Production: 38.1%
Protection: n/a
Conservation: 61.9%
Social services: n/a
Multiple purpose: n/a
None or unknown: n/a
Forest Area Breakdown
Total area: 47,713,000 ha
Primary: n/a
Modified natural: n/a
Semi-natural: n/a
Production plantation: n/a
Production plantation: n/a
Plantations
Plantations, 2005: n/a
% of total forest cover: n/a
Annual change rate (00-05): n/a
- M t
Below-ground biomass: - M t
Area annually affected by

Fire
: 14,000 ha
Insects: n/a
Diseases: n/a
Number of tree species in IUCN red list
Number of native tree species: 1,360
Critically endangered: 3
Endangered: 6
Vulnerable: 50
Wood removal 2005
Industrial roundwood: 8121000 m3 o.b.
Wood fuel: 21000 m3 o.b.
Value of forest products, 2005
Industrial roundwood: $43,856,000
Wood fuel: n/a
Non-wood forest products (NWFPs): n/a
Total Value: $43,856,000

More forest statistics for Venezuela

New report reveals human rights abuses by corporations, governments in the Amazon

(05/14/2014) Regnskogfondet (the Rainforest Foundation of Norway) recently released a 52-page report that gives an in-depth account of the conflicts activists and indigenous peoples (IPs) are having with corporations and governmental agencies. It relays a situation that does not look good.


Satellites reveal browning mountain forests

(11/22/2013) In a dramatic response to global warming, tropical forests in the high elevation areas of five continents have been "browning" since the 1990s. They have been steadily losing foliage, and showing less photosynthetic activity. Scientists analyzed the forest cover by using satellites to measure sunlight bouncing off the surface of the earth, then determining the different surface types via reflection patterns.


Scientists identify 137 protected areas most important for preserving biodiversity

(11/14/2013) Want to save the world's biodiversity from mass extinction? Then make certain to safeguard the 74 sites identified today in a new study in Science. Evaluating 173,000 terrestrial protected areas, scientists pulled out the most important ones for global biodiversity based on the number of threatened mammals, birds, and amphibians found in the parks. In all they identified 137 protected areas (spread over 74 sites as many protected areas were in the same region) in 34 countries as 'irreplaceable.'


Richest countries spent $74 billion on fossil fuel subsidies in 2011, eclipsing climate finance by seven times

(11/13/2013) In 2011, the top 11 richest carbon emitters spent an estimated $74 billion on fossil fuel subsidies, or seven times the amount spent on fast-track climate financing to developing nations, according to a recent report by the Overseas Development Institute. Worldwide, nations spent over half a trillion dollars on fossil fuel subsidies in 2011 according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).


Deforestation rates for Amazon countries outside Brazil

(06/26/2013) Deforestation has sharply increased in Amazon countries outside of Brazil, finds a new analysis based on satellite data. Using data from Terra-i, O-Eco's InfoAmazonia team has developed updated forest cover maps for Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, French Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela. The results reveal an increasing trend in forest clearing since 2004.


First strike: nearly 200 illegal loggers arrested in massive sting across 12 countries

(02/20/2013) One-hundred-and-ninety-seven illegal loggers across a dozen Central and South American countries have been arrested during INTERPOL's first strike against widespread forestry crime. INTERPOL, or The International Criminal Police Organization, worked with local police forces to take a first crack at illegal logging. In all the effort, known as Operation Lead, resulted in the seizure of 50,000 cubic meters of wood worth around $8 million.


Deforestation rate falls across Amazon rainforest countries

(12/06/2012) The average annual rate of deforestation across Amazon rainforest countries dropped sharply in the second half of the 2000s, reports a comprehensive new assessment of the region's forest cover and drivers of deforestation. While the drop in deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has been widely reported, several other Amazon countries saw their rates of forest loss drop as well, according to the report, which was published by a coalition of 11 Latin American civil society groups and research institutions that form the Amazonian Network of Georeferenced Socio-Environmental Information (RAISG).


New forest map shows 6% of Amazon deforested between 2000 and 2010

(09/21/2012) An update to one of the most comprehensive maps of the Amazon basin shows that forest cover across the world's largest rainforest declined by about six percent between 2000 and 2010. But the map also reveals hopeful signs that recognition of protected areas and native lands across the eight countries and one department that make up the Amazon is improving, with conservation and indigenous territories now covering nearly half of its land mass.


Survivors say gold miners in helicopter massacred village of 80 in Venezuelan Amazon

(08/30/2012) Up to 80 people have been massacred by gold miners in the remote Venezuelan Amazon, according to reports received by the indigenous-rights group, Survival International. According to Reuters, the reports have prompted the Venezuelan government to investigate the alleged murders of the Yanomami isolated community. According to three indigenous survivors, sometime in July a helicopter and what-are-believed to be illegal goldminers massacred the Yanomami community of Irotatheri.


Unidentified poodle moth takes Internet by storm

(08/29/2012) A white moth from Venezuela that bears a striking resemblance to a poodle has become an Internet sensation, after cryptozoologist Karl Shuker posted about the bizarre-looking species on his blog. Photographed in 2009 in Venezulea's Canaima National Park in the Gran Sabana region by zoologist Arthur Anker from Kyrgyzstan, the white, cuddly-looking moth with massive black eyes has yet to be identified and could be a species still unknown to science.


Dry forests disappearing faster than rainforests in Latin America

(08/21/2012) Countries across Latin America lost 78,000 square kilometers of subtropical and tropical dry broadleaf forests between 2001 and 2010, according to a new satellite-based assessment published in the journal Biotropica.


'The lion of the cave:' new predatory, swimming cricket discovered in Venezuela

(08/06/2012) Scientists have discovered what is likely a new species of cricket that is the top predator of its lightless world: a cave in a Venezuelan tepui. The fauna of cave was documented by BBC filmmakers as researchers uncovered not only a large, flesh-eating cricket but a new species of catfish.


Suggested reading - Books

CIA-World Factbook Profile
FAO-Forestry Profile
VenezuelAnalysis.com



Last updated: 23 Jul 2014