Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Peru's Land Degradation

Peru has approved a law that would allow roads to be built in the most remote and pristine region of its Amazon rainforest, a haven for isolated indigenous groups and an area rich in mahogany trees. The area encompasses four national parks and could affect five reserves for indigenous tribes living on voluntary isolation. The law contravenes several international commitments made by Peru including climate change pledges and trade agreements with the US and Europe.

The law which declares the construction of roads in border zones of “national priority and interest” was announced just hours after Pope Francis ended a visit to the country in which he warned that the Amazon and its peoples had never been so under threat.

In an address in the jungle city of Puerto Maldonado,  the Pope railed against “pressure being exerted by big business interests” which were destroying a natural habitat vital for the entire planet.

Lizardo Cauper, head of Peru’s federation of native Amazon peoples, Aidesep, explained “These projects don’t benefit indigenous people. This is an area with isolated people who are extremely vulnerable,” he told the Guardian. “Roads bring outsiders who traffic our land, log our timber, as well as drug traffickers and illegal miners.”
Julia Urrunaga, Peru director for Environmental Investigation Agency, said 95% of deforestation happens less than 6km from a road, adding the new law contradicted a court ruling that declared the protection of the forest in the national interest.
The network of roads, including the main 172-mile (277km) highway connecting Puerto Esperanza and Iñapari on the Brazilian border could result in the deforestation of 2,750 sq km, according to satellite mapping by Monitoring of the Amazon Andes Project.
“This law makes a mockery of Peru’s climate change commitments...” said Laura Furones of Global Witness.

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