Peru | Shrugging off government crackdown, illegal mines invade PAs
For decades gold miners have pillaged the lush Peruvian Amazon forest of Madre de Dios in search of the precious metal. Now a study reports that illicit mining is sharply on the rise despite local government efforts to curb it—and this is taking a heavy toll on the ecosystem.
In 2012 the Peruvian government announced a slew of legal decrees to defend Madre de Dios—considered the country’s biodiversity capital—against miners. Authorities conducted raids, dismantled clandestine camps, and regulated fuel and supply traffic. Despite the crackdown, the total mining area had increased by about 40 percent (to around 170,000 acres) just four years later. According to the most comprehensive analysis to date, the practice—possibly enabled by poor control of the region and greater highway access—extended into at least one of the forest’s two national reserves, protected areas where mining is prohibited.