A political ecology of green territorialization: frontier expansion and conservation in the Colombian Amazon

Hein, Jonas / Carlos Del Cairo / Daniel Ortiz Gallego / Tomás Vergara Gutiérrez / Juan Sebastian Velez / Jean Carlo Rodríguez de Francisco
External Publications (2020)

in: Die Erde - Journal of the Geographical Society of Berlin 151 (1), 37-57

DOI: https://doi.org/10.12854/erde-2020-456

After decades of civil war, the Colombian government has recently declared the Amazon as a model region for green growth and low carbon development. The Amazon Vision programme, launched by the Colombian government in 2016, seeks to contribute to forest conservation, climate mitigation, poverty reduction and peace building. The Amazon Vision fundamentally reframes the Colombian Amazon from a ‘narco frontier’ that needs to be liberated from guerrilla influence, organized crime and peasants destroying forests for coca cultivation, to a net CO2 sink with enormous potential for green growth and poverty reduction. Drawing on historical and empirical qualitative research in Guaviare and complemented by a quantitative land cover classification, this article builds on the concept of ‘green territoriality’ to investigate the extent to which the shift towards conservation affects property rights and the ability of indigenous groups and peasants to access land and natural resources. We illustrate how the reframing of peasants from protagonists of development and frontier expansion to villains, and of indigenous communities from underdeveloped forest dwellers to environmental guardians, has created land conflicts and affected the legitimacy of their respective property rights. In both cases, the Amazon Vision strengthens conservation policies and challenges existing land rights but also creates new windows of opportunity for the land claims of indigenous communities while reinforcing conceptualizations of social differentiation among dwellers of the Amazon.

About the authors

Hein, Jonas


Rodríguez de Francisco

Further experts

Aleksandrova, Mariya

Climate risk governance 

Baumann, Max-Otto

Political Science 

Brandi, Clara

Economy and Political Science 

Breuer, Anita

Political Scientist 

Dick, Eva

Sociologist and Spatial Planner 

Dippel, Beatrice


Donnelly, Aiveen

Politcal Science 

Ekoh, Susan S.

Environmental Research 

El-Haddad, Amirah


Fasold, Maximilian

Political Economy 

Goedeking, Nicholas

Comparative Political Economy 

Haldenwang, Christian von

Political Science 

Houdret, Annabelle

Political Scientist 

Lehmann, Ina

Political Science 

Leininger, Julia

Political Scientist 

Malerba, Daniele


Mathis, Okka Lou

Political Scientist 

Morare, Ditebogo Modiegi

Political Science 

Never, Babette

Political Scientist 

Nowack, Daniel

Political Science 

Pegels, Anna


Roll, Michael


Srigiri, Srinivasa Reddy

Agricultural Economist