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New Amazon Threat? Deforestation From Mining

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Surprising amount of rainforest loss occurs on – and off – mining leases, new study finds

Sprawling mining operations in Brazil are destroying much more of the iconic Amazon forest than previously thought, says the first comprehensive study of mining deforestation in the world’s largest tropical rainforest.

The research, published in Nature Communications, finds that mining-related forest loss caused roughly 10 percent of all Amazon deforestation between 2005 and 2015, much higher than previous estimates.

Surprisingly, roughly 90 percent of deforestation related to mining occurred outside the mining leases granted by Brazil’s government, the University of Vermont-led study finds. Mining-induced deforestation was 12 times greater outside the mine lease areas than within them, extending as far 43.5 miles (70 km) beyond mine borders.

“These results show that mining now ranks as a substantial cause of Amazon forest loss,” says Laura Sonter of UVM’s Gund Institute for Environment. “Previous estimates assumed mining caused maybe one or two percent of deforestation. Hitting the 10 percent threshold is alarming and warrants action.”

Continue reading at University of Vermont

Image via University of Vermont