Mar 30 2011
The international community has placed a high commodity price on gold, which has increased the demand for mining, especially in developing countries. Peru is the world’s 6thlargest producer of gold in the world, and the Madre de Dios reserve, which surrounds and includes Manu National Park, is the second –largest exporter of gold in the country.
While gold mining is technically illegal in this area, monitoring and protective institutions are ineffective at preventing these activities. NGOs estimate that over 30,000 miners are living in the reserve area, funding a $5.6 billion/year industry. Private investors have moved into Peru from all over the world, and people are flocking to the country. However, the environmental impacts of these activities are detrimental. Mercury used in the extraction process has fouled the water supply, and large mining companies use heavy machinery to clear-cut virgin forests in pursuit of gold. Without the proper monitoring forces in place, gold mining and similar extraction activities such as iron and oil extraction pose a threat to the Amazon ecosystem, especially aquatic species.