Amazon deforestation surges in Colombia, report says

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — A Colombian government report says deforestation is rapidly accelerating in the country's Amazon region because of an expansion in cattle ranching and road building in previously remote areas.

The report published Thursday was based on satellite imagery. Researchers found that 144,147 hectares (56 square miles) of forest were cleared in the region last year. That's more than double the 70,074 hectares removed in 2016.

Colombia's environmental ministry said the planting of illegal coca crops and logging were also factors in the rise in deforestation.

The surge in Colombia came as deforestation slowed last year in Brazil as a result of a weak economy. Brazil is home to more than half of the Amazon, the world's largest rainforest. Around 10 percent of the rainforest is inside Colombia.