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Record Gold Prices Drive Deforestation in Peruvian Amazon

A new study published in the online journal PLoS ONE establishes a strong correlation between rising gold prices, mercury imports and deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon. In parts of the forest, deforestation has increased six-fold in recent years.

Jennifer Swenson, assistant professor at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment, was interviewed by Science Daily:

"At the two sites we studied, Guacamayo and Colorado-Puquiri, nearly 5,000 acres were cleared in just three years, between 2006 and 2009, largely outpacing nearby deforestation caused by human settlement."

With gold selling for over $1,500 per ounce on April 19, Erick Fernandes, Adviser on Agriculture and Rural Development for the Latin America and Caribbean region at the World Bank, shared with us a photograph he took near a research site in the Amazon. It illustrates the forest degradation associated with mining. 

"Note the makeshit airstrip (uper left quadrat) to ship the gold out!" he wrote.

Makeshift airstrip in the Amazon. Photo: Erick Fernandes/ World Bank


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