The magnitude of private and public investments in the Peruvian Amazon is immense
Infrastructure development is a major direct cause of deforestation
It is commonly acknowledged that infrastructure development is a major direct cause of deforestation. As part of the Initiative for South American Regional Infrastructure Integration (IIRSA) – over the next decade, 880 km of new highways and 2000 km of paved roads are to be constructed. The portion of the IIRSA road connecting Pucallpia with Cruziero de Sol will cross through a protected area and an officially designated indigenous territory of indigenous peoples in voluntary isolation. The initiative also includes the construction of 15 hydroelectric dams in the Peruvian Amazon; the first to be constructed is expected to flood some 40,000 hectares.
A rapid proliferation of concessions generate new conflicts
With respect to private investment, there has been a rapid proliferation of concessions for hydrocarbon exploration and operation. This is not surprising given that the western Amazon and Andean piedmont contain some of the world’s last unexplored regions with significant potential for oil and gas. What is particularly alarming is that more than ½ of all the titled indigenous land in the Amazonia is covered by concessions. These hydrocarbon concessions cover more than 60% of the proposed areas for territorial reserves for indigenous groups in voluntary isolation. Other sectors in expansion include palm oil plantations for biofuels, REDD, and gold mining. These operations are in direct opposition to the interests and visions of traditional and indigenous populations of the region, and are generating new conflicts.
Susan Kandel, Director, PRISMA, El Salvador
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