From: Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM, More from this Affiliate
Published April 20, 2011 08:33 AM

Demand for gold pushing deforestation in Peruvian Amazon

Deforestation is on the rise in Peru's Madre de Dios region from illegal, small-scale, and dangerous gold mining. In some areas forest loss has increased up to six times. But the loss of forest is only the beginning; the unregulated mining is likely leaching mercury into the air, soil, and water, contaminating the region and imperiling its people.

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Using satellite imagery from NASA, researchers were able to follow rising deforestation due to artisanal gold mining in Peru. According the study, published in PLoS ONE, Two large mining sites saw the loss of 7,000 hectares of forest (15,200 acres)—an area larger than Bermuda—between 2003 and 2009.

"We present recent evidence of the global demand for a single commodity and the ecosystem destruction resulting from commodity extraction, recorded by satellites for one of the most biodiverse areas of the world," the researchers write.

Jennifer Swenson, lead author from Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment, says in a press release that such mining is "plainly visible from space." There are also "many scattered, small but expanding areas of mining activity across Madre de Dios that are more difficult to monitor but could develop rapidly like the sites we've tracked over time," adds Swenson.

Swenson and her colleagues clearly link the rise in unregulated mining to rising gold prices.

Article continues: http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0419-hance_peru_mining.html

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