Oil and Gas Exploration Threatens Peruvian Amazon

A remote indiginious indian camp found abandoned after developers entered their region in Peru. Photo via Agencia Andina

In the 1960s and 70s, there was an oil boom in Peru. Due to restrictions on where developers could explore, the hunt for fossil fuels in the county dwindled in recent decades, and those concerned with preserving the nation's biologically diverse corner of the Amazon rainforest could breathe a sigh of relief. A recent report, however, indicates that the Peruvian government has now conceded a whopping 41 percent of their Amazon territory for oil and gas exploration. The consequences of such exploration could be devastating to the forest's fragile ecosystems, as well as the uncontacted tribesmen that call the region home. Unprecedented Oil and Gas Exploration Allowances
According to the article, written by researchers Martí Orta and Matt Finer for the journal Environmental Research Letters, the recent concessions made by the Peruvian government are the largest ever awarded for oil and gas exploration.

Never before had scientists ventured to measure a complete summery of the regions open to oil and gas industries--which is subdivided into 52 separate areas amounting to 41 percent of the Peruvian Amazon. According to a report in Ambiente Brasil, the fossil-fuel production in Peru is at its greatest level, and increasing quickly.

While the arrangement for expanded exploration undoubtedly is financially beneficial for some in the Peruvian government, the environmental cost may be immeasurable.

This map shows how much of Peru's Amazon region has been conceded for exploration. Image: Disclosure
Exploration Comes at the Expense of the Environment
The report indicates that one-fifth of the conceded exploration area falls within environmental reserves--home to some of the most unique and endangered species on Earth, many of which have yet to be recorded by biologists.

As detrimental to the ecosystem such oil and gas exploration may be, it is not without a human cost as well. The researchers found that more than 60 percent of the expanded exploration zones encroach upon reserves for the nation's indigenous populations--some that have never before been contacted by peoples of European descent.

Orta and Finer, in sharing their research, hope to raise awareness of the extent to which the Amazon is being threatened with development and to elicit a debate among Peruvians regarding the exploitation of their greatest natural treasure. The world, and all the unique, endangered species in it, await their conclusion.

More on the Amazon Rainforest
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Is the Amazon Rainforest Worth an $18 Billion Bailout?
Amazon Rainforest Near Tipping Point

Tags: Amazonia | Latin America | Oil | Peru

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