Image courtesy Greg Asner, Carnegie Airborne Observatory

For the first time, researchers have been able to map the true extent of gold mining in the biologically diverse region of Madre De Dios in the Peruvian Amazon. The team, led by the Carnegie Institution for Science, combined field surveys with high-resolution satellite monitoring and the MacArthur-supported Carnegie Airborne Observatory mapping of deforestation, canopy biodiversity, and carbon content. The results reveal that the geographic extent of mining has increased 400% from 1999 to 2012 and that the average annual rate of forest loss has tripled since the Great Recession of 2008. Until this study, thousands of small, clandestine mines that have boomed since the economic crisis have gone unmonitored.

Conservation & Sustainable Development, Conservation, Latin America