Deforestation goes into hyperdrive with rising gold price

Deforestation around the Amazon River in Peru has increased six-fold in recent years as miners, driven by record gold prices, blast and clear huge tracts of lowland rainforest, according to a Duke University led study.

Published in the journal PLoS ONE, the study used NASA satellite imagery combined with economic analyses of gold prices and mercury imports to document the forces responsible for deforestation in Peru’s Madre de Dios region. It reveals that around 15,200 acres of pristine, biologically diverse forest and wetlands were cleared at two large mining sites between 2003 and 2009, with a dramatic increase in deforestation occurring in the last three years.

Duke geospatial specialist, Jennifer Swenson, says that much of the deforestation has been caused by unregulated, artisanal mining by miners who are often among the poorest and most marginalized members of their society. “These are small-time miners; there is no big ‘Goliath’ mining company to blame,” she explains. The miners have limited knowledge of mining’s environmental or human health effects and rarely have safeguards to limit the release of the mercury they use to process their gold into the air, soil or water.

Most of the gold mined artisanally in Madre de Dios comes from alluvial deposits in the channels and floodplains of Amazon tributaries. Miners blast away river banks and clear floodplain forests to expose potential gold-yielding gravel deposits and use mercury to process the gold ore.

The mercury contaminates local water and soil, and ravages the nervous system of miners and their families, but the risks extend far beyond the local area, Swenson says. “Small-scale gold mining is the second-largest source of mercury pollution in the world, behind only the burning of fossil fuels. Virtually all mercury imported to Peru is used for artisanal gold mining and imports have risen exponentially since 2003, mirroring the rise in gold prices.”

The study acknowledges that it is difficult for Peru’s government to monitor and control all small-scale artisanal mining within its borders, but suggests that another approach may be to be start limiting mercury imports.

Related:
Did human-induced climate change begin thousands of years ago?
Amazon A Desert For Soil Bacteria
Terra Preta Soils to Save the Biosphere
Biodiversity now a public health issue

Source: Duke University

, ,

Comments are closed.

DEFORESTATION THE DOORWAY TO HELL BUMPER STICKER FJB LETS GO BRANDON picture

DEFORESTATION THE DOORWAY TO HELL BUMPER STICKER FJB LETS GO BRANDON

$5.99



TRACTOR SKIDDING retro PHOTO 8

TRACTOR SKIDDING retro PHOTO 8"x10" Lumber MACHINERY deforestation

$10.98



Vtg 1980s 00s Animal Rights Activism sticker - Greenpeace Ocean PETA WWF Audubon picture

Vtg 1980s 00s Animal Rights Activism sticker - Greenpeace Ocean PETA WWF Audubon

$19.20



Deforestation Logging Scene PHILIPPINES Photo RPPC Antique Postcard 1910s picture

Deforestation Logging Scene PHILIPPINES Photo RPPC Antique Postcard 1910s

$19.99



LG755 Orig Photo DEFORESTATION Longview Washington Logging Industry Lumberjack picture

LG755 Orig Photo DEFORESTATION Longview Washington Logging Industry Lumberjack

$20.00



Colour Slides Slide Farms Farm Deforestation Photo Logging Bundle 35mm Slides 48 picture

Colour Slides Slide Farms Farm Deforestation Photo Logging Bundle 35mm Slides 48

$12.08



Deforestation,San Juan County,Colorado,CO,Farm Security Administration,FSA picture

Deforestation,San Juan County,Colorado,CO,Farm Security Administration,FSA

$10.00



saving the rain forest coffee mug CUIPO micro/dish safe Fight Deforestation picture

saving the rain forest coffee mug CUIPO micro/dish safe Fight Deforestation

$11.20



Arachide Project Deforestation Tanzania Africa 1940-50 OLD PHOTO picture

Arachide Project Deforestation Tanzania Africa 1940-50 OLD PHOTO

$5.74



c1910s Kushiro Japan Kawayu Onsen Hot Springs Mt Boshi Boy w/ No Hands Photo A53 picture

c1910s Kushiro Japan Kawayu Onsen Hot Springs Mt Boshi Boy w/ No Hands Photo A53

$15.93



Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes