11 Oct 2011:
Rising Gold Prices Drive
Rampant Clearing of Peruvian Amazon
The spread of illegal gold mining in southern Peru has driven a growth in deforestation so rampant that government officials may declare an environmental emergency, according to a news report
. As the global
price of gold has climbed, mining operations in the Amazon have extended into the fringes of Tambopata Nature Reserve, an important region for ecotourism, with miners beginning operations without necessary permits, according Mongabay.com
. In some cases, miners have started operations within the reserve itself, using dredges and massive suction equipment to search for gold in rivers and creeks. Ecologists warn that enormous swaths of remote and biodiverse forest are being cleared before scientists have even been able to completely assess their value. “This [area] is often blanketed in clouds. It’s poorly known to science. There are only a few places where roads exist,” said tropical ecologist Gregory Asner
of the Carnegie Institution for Science at Stanford University. “We don’t know the composition of the ecosystems.” The spread of new mining operations has mirrored the rise in gold prices, with prices rising from under $400 an ounce in the late 1990s to a peak of about $1,900 per ounce in August.
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