Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP) has revealed that forest cover may being restored in areas previously mined for gold in parts of the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve. This is an indigenous protected area in the Madre de Dios region and part of the ancestral lands of the Harakmbut, Yine and Machiguenga peoples. It boasts exceptional biodiversity, including many endangered and endemic species.

“This is the first example of re-growth we have seen across the major mining zones in southern Peru,” says Matt Finer, lead MAAP researcher, in an email to Mongabay.

Artisanal gold mining began in the south-eastern corner of Amarakaeri in July 2013, according to a previous analysis by MAAP. Two years later, miners had leveled eleven hectares of forest to sift through topsoil, searching for precious gold flecks. Soon after, the Peruvian government, led by the National Protected Areas Service (Sernanp) intervened to throw out the illegal miners, with evident success.

MAAP’s new imagery shows that mining has indeed ceased in the south-eastern portion of Amarakaeri Communal Reserve. “This finding may represent good news regarding the Amazon’s resilience to recover from destructive mining if it is stopped at an early stage,” MAAP writes in a blog post.