The Roots of Environmental Crime in the Peruvian Amazon

COCA / 2 JUN 2022

Peru’s 70 million hectares of Amazon forest are being razed at an alarming rate. This investigation reveals the range of culprits behind the devastation: from illegal gold miners who leave behind pools of poisonous mercury, to poor locals coopted into harvesting valuable trees, to a complex web of front companies, agribusiness subsidiaries, corrupt officials and criminal groups that prosper from the Amazon’s destruction.

Conducted with the Igarapé Institute – a Brazil-based think tank devoted to development, security and climate issues –  the six-part series also unravels the crucial links in the chain of specific environmental crimes contributing to forest loss, including illegal logging, illicit gold mining, coca cultivation, wildlife trafficking and the usurping of lands for cattle farms and booming agricultural industries.

Peru’s Amazon, which covers nearly half of the Andean country, is rich in biodiversity and critical to the capture of carbon, which mitigates global warming. Political instability and corruption, however, have made protecting it much more difficult. Meanwhile, demand from international markets for wood, gold and other forest products increases the threat to Indigenous communities, animal habitats and protected reserves.

Chapter 1

Money Grows on Trees: Environmental Crime in Peru's Amazon

COCA / 2 JUN 2022

Peru’s Amazon, which covers nearly half of the Andean country, is rich in biodiversity and critical to the capture of carbon, which mitigates global warming. Political instability and corruption, however,…

Chapter 2

Felled and Burned: Deforestation in Peru's Amazon

COCA / 2 JUN 2022

Rich in resources, Peru's Amazon is being plundered at an accelerated rate, losing more than 26,000 square kilometers of forest since 2001.

Chapter 3

A Toxic Trade: Illegal Mining in Peru's Amazon

ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME / 2 JUN 2022

Illegal gold mining drives the destruction of Peru's Amazon, where fortune seekers strip forests and leave behind poisonous pools of mercury.

Chapter 4

Poaching Grounds: Wildlife Trafficking in Peru's Amazon

ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME / 2 JUN 2022

Peru – rich in biodiversity – is a hotspot for the wildlife trade. Reptiles, fish and birds are all trafficked locally and internationally.

Chapter 5

Corruption at Every Level: Who Profits from Destruction of Peru's Amazon

ELITES AND CRIME / 2 JUN 2022

From unchecked agricultural development to wildlife trafficking, corruption greases the wheels of every environmental crime in the Peruvian Amazon.

Chapter 6

State Resilience: Little Political Will for Protecting Peru's Amazon

ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME / 2 JUN 2022

While there are some efforts to build resilience, including the passing of new legislative frameworks and some other signs of political willingness to tackle the problem, there is still a…

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