The Roots of Environmental Crime in the Peruvian Amazon

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Peru’s 70 million hectares of Amazon forest are being razed at an alarming rate. This investigation reveals the range of culprits behind the devastation: from illegal gold miners who leave behind pools of poisonous mercury, to poor locals coopted into harvesting valuable trees, to a complex web of front companies, agribusiness subsidiaries, corrupt officials and criminal groups that prosper from the Amazon’s destruction.

Conducted with the Igarapé Institute the six-part series also unravels the crucial links in the chain of specific environmental crimes contributing to forest loss, including illegal logging, illicit gold mining, coca cultivation, wildlife trafficking and the usurping of lands for cattle farms and booming agricultural industries.

Peru’s Amazon, which covers nearly half of the Andean country, is rich in biodiversity and critical to the capture of carbon, which mitigates global warming. Political instability and corruption, however, have made protecting it much more difficult. Meanwhile, demand from international markets for wood, gold and other forest products increases the threat to Indigenous communities, animal habitats and protected reserves.

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