Rising Gold Prices Mean Deforestation in Peruvian Amazon Up 600%

One side effect of gold prices continuing to rise (now at a new record of $1500/ounce): Deforestation in parts of the Peruvian Amazon have increased up to 600% since 2003. That’s according to a new study in PLoS ONE, which shows how unregulated mining in Peru, done by small-scale miners just trying to support their families has caused approximately 15,200 acres of previously pristine forest to be cleared between 2003-2009, with a marked uptick since 2006.

Though such small-scale mining has taken place in the region for generations recent gold price rises has clearly increased the pace of gold mining and environmental degradation.

Report co-author Jennifer Swenson says that the mining is “now plainly visible from space” and that deforestation caused by mining has “largely outpaced nearby deforestation caused by human settlement” since 2006.

Beyond the deforestation, mercury is used to process the ore, which contaminates the water and soil as well as puts the health of miners and their families into jeopardy.

Swenson notes, “Virtually all mercury imported into Peru is used for artisanal gold mining and imports have risen exponentially since 2003, mirroring the rise in gold prices.”

Read the original study: Gold Mining in the Peruvian Amazon: Global Prices, Deforestation and Mercury Imports

This post was originally published by Treehugger.

Related Stories:

Reforesting the Amazon

Campaigns to Stop Deforestation

Hundreds of Nigerian Children Poisoned By Gold Mining Operations


Photo from Lauren0925 via flickr
written by Matthew McDermott, a Treehugger blogger


William Ford
William Ford6 years ago

Greed make us more nuts

Monique D.
Mon D6 years ago

Nothing is worth destroying our environment over

Juliet D.
judith sanders6 years ago

You can help alleviate the pressure to mine for gold by turning in your broken and blah jewelry for cash. When's the last time you actually wore that sad little gold-plated heart necklace?
No, you won't get much for it, because the retail markup on jewelry is often 600%.

Carol Smith
Carol Smith6 years ago

God forbid that anyone should stop going after the means to survive. Gold might feed the starving for a while, for all we know. But it is more likely to line the pockets of the greedy who have no real need. Nor do they care if they choke to death on the oxygenless air when enough trees are gone. Perhaps someone might get somewhere calling them suicidally moneymad and having them put away as criminally insane and endangering others who need that air too. Food for thought.

Danny W.
Danny Wilson6 years ago

I like that, the rainforest is worth more than the gold!

Judy F.
Judy F.6 years ago

The rain forest is worth more than gold. It is the lungs of the
earth, and with all the radiation effects both from the sun and
nuclear fallout, it must become untouchable. You cannot eat
nor drink nor breath gold, but the forest can give you LIFE.

Gloria C.
gloria c6 years ago

the rainforest is gold.

Debra Dowdell
Debra Dowdell6 years ago

Thanks for the information on this issue. More people should know about this, and other countries should be getting involved to try to help Peru end the deforestation.

Teresa E.
Teresa E6 years ago

We need an honest money system now, end the fed.

Georgia L.
Georgia L6 years ago

Anther problem is the rare earths which are used in military equipment. The only thing the U.S. is still number one in. They want to mine in the national forests ....strip mine. Nice isn't it?