Deforestation due to illegal mining in Madre de Dios has already destroyed over 50,000 hectares. This figure of destruction, which is comparable to about 71,000 soccer fields, is the product of a business worth two billion dollars in the black market, as detailed by the Ministry of Environment. Most surprising is that this awfulness is directed against one of the most valuable resources of humanity, and already exceeded drug trafficking as the main illicit activity throughout Peru. It is sad that the peruvian state does not have the capacity or resources to stop the increasing destruction of the Amazon rainforest, which is closely linked to the mafia and corruption of the state itself. According to the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the annual deforestation rate has tripled from 2008 to 2012, from 2,166 hectares to 6,145 hectares per year, driven by high gold prices. Today, that figure is even higher.
The impacts of illegal mining that mostly affect Peru are of environmental and socio-economic character. The extraction of minerals, in addition to the deforestation, produces toxic residues that contaminate the soil and completely destroy the habitat to a degree that makes the natural regeneration of the forest impossible. Also, the uncontrolled and inappropriate use of mercury causes that its residues goes into the rivers. According to figures of Antonio Brack, former minister of the environment, it lays between 26,000 and 36,000 kilos per year. As a result, the rivers are polluted as well as the fish which are then consumed by the local population.
Equally terrible are the social impacts. Illegal mining generates labor exploitation of thousands of women and children who work under inhumane conditions and in some cases like slaves. In the mining camps there are neither labor laws, nor safety and health. Prostitution is something terribly common even for children who are only 12 years old, which are captured and mislead with offers of housework. It is estimated that there are over 400 girls and boys forced to prostitution without the help of any authority reacting against such barbarism of people without any value, not even for human life.
Given the missing capability of the state to do anything about this terrible situation, it’s the time for private initiatives to combat the deforestation at the Amazon. The conservation project ArBio is one of these. RESPONSible Travel Peru decided to become part of this initiative with the help of the green marketing campaign RESPONSible Likes, which allows people to participate with just one click on “like” in the protection of up to 24 endangered hectares at the Amazon. You too can help the ArBio project in many ways, find out more here.
A lot has been talked about this issue, which affects us all, but little is done about it. Deforestation never stops if we continue like that. Now, it’s time to stop talking and start acting, everyone as he can. If we are not part of the solution, we are part of the problem.
Cover photo: La Mula
1st photo: La República
2nd photo: La Mula