We analyzed hundreds of high-resolution satellite images to calculate the amount of recent (October 2012 – October 2016) gold mining deforestation in the southern Peruvian Amazon: 30,895 acres. Combining this finding with previous studies, we estimate the total gold mining deforestation of around 154,440 acres in the region. Image 50a shows the recent gold mining deforestation in red, and all previous gold mining deforestation in yellow.
Key findings include:
- The vast majority of the deforestation has occurred in the Madre de Dios region, but also has extended to the adjacent regions of Cusco and Puno.
- The rate of recent gold mining deforestation was much lower (42%) than during its peak, which occurred between 2010 and 2012 (6,640 vs. 15,650 acres/year).
- However, half of the recent gold mining deforestation (15,830 acres) occurred within the buffer zones of three protected areas (Tambopata National Reserve, Bahuaja Sonene National Park, and Amarakeari Communal Reserve).
- Moreover, recent gold mining deforestation invaded two protected areas (Tambopata and Amarakaeri).
Previously, Dr. Greg Asner and colleagues documented the deforestation of approximately 123,200 acres (50,000 hectares) by gold mining activities in the southern Peruvian Amazon through September 2012 (Asner et al 2013). We have updated this information by analyzing hundreds of recent (2016) high-resolution satellite images (see Methodology section below). We documented an additional 30,895 acres (12,503 hectares) of gold mining deforestation between October 2012 and October 2016. Thus, combining both studies, we estimate the total gold mining deforestation of around 154,440 acres (62,500 hectares).