Last year, record levels of deforestation through burning were recorded across the Amazon basin. This year, multiple sources report that the destruction of the Amazon has been renewed with even greater intensity.
Each year during the dry season, across South America’s Amazon forests, shared by eight countries (Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana), farmers and cattle ranchers burn large areas of forest, expanding their agricultural and livestock operations once the soils in areas already cleared of pristine rainforest vegetation have been exhausted through intensive exploitation. With the attention of the world’s media understandably focused upon the global health crisis, this annual cycle of destruction continues.
In satellite images collected during August this year by Brazil’s space agency, INPE, which has clashed often with the country’s controversial president, Jair Bolsonaro, more than 7600 individual fires were detected in the Brazilian state of Amazonas alone. This is the highest number since 1998 and almost one thousand higher than the record figure for 2019. Across the Brazilian Amazon as a whole, during August INPE reported the presence of almost 30,000 forest fires.
Here in Peru, where 60% of the nation’s land area is composed of subtropical and tropical forests, we are far from immune from the twin scourges of land exploitation and illegal gold mining within our own share of the Amazon basin. Many national parks and nature reserves, as well as indigenous reserves, have seen the fragile ecologies of their forests damaged or destroyed by invasive practices, as the government in Lima fails to enforce its own environmental legislation.
At Tambopata Ecolodge, as the owners and operators of an eco-lodge and the custodians of the Tambopata Ecolodge Private Conservation Area, the largest protected natural area in its category anywhere in Peru, we continue to work to protect the forests of the Peruvian Amazon.
During the almost thirty years we have been involved in conservation work, we have seen many threats to the delicate harmony of the forests we help to protect. And as a small conservation-based ecotourism company, we continue to face many challenges. In the Tambopata area of southeastern Peru where we work, the forests and waterways are threatened by land invasion, gold mining and illegal logging. In recent years, within the Tambopata National Reserve itself, illegal gold mining alone is estimated to have destroyed more than 450 hectares of primary forest.
As we continue with our conservation work, we look forward to the day when travelers from Peru and the rest of the world will return to our eco-lodge, and through their visit contribute to the important task of helping us to conserve a small part of the Amazon basin for future generations.