Mining and deforestation; new research

21 October 2017

A new study has been published on the impact of mining on deforestation. Although the study focuses on Brazil, some lessons can be gleaned that are appropriate to Peru.

Satellite data show that mining sites in the Brazilian Amazon jungle have a disproportionate effect on the reduction of forest cover in a 70 km radius of mining activity. This is basically due to the way in which roads are built to access mining areas and how these stimulate secondary economic activity as migrants use access roads to pursue agricultural and other activities.

Almost 10% of deforestation in Brazil is taking place in the areas surrounding unregulated mining activity, the study finds.

The lessons for Peru are important since mining activity (especially informal mining) is having a similarly deleterious effect on forest cover. The evidence from Madre de Dios is eloquent, though by no means limited to that region. Perhaps more importantly, the quest to tap other raw materials (not least timber itself) is leading to road building throughout the Amazon region.

According to Professor Bill Laurance from James Cook University, the impact of mining in Brazil is having a much more devastating impact on jungle cover than is ever taken into account in Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs). 

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