Peru to Allow Roads to be Built in Previously-Untouched Rainforests
The Peruvian Government passed a new law allowing the construction of roads and infrastructure in some of the most pristine and isolated parts of the Amazon Rainforest.
The government announced the approval of the new law in El Peruano, its official newspaper, arguing for its stance based on Peru’s “national security priority and interest”.
The move also comes just hours after Pope Francis, on a tour of various Latin American countries, warned that the Amazon Rainforest and the indigenous people inhabiting it have “never been so threatened in their territories as they are now”. The pope also criticized business interests for damaging the rainforest and threatening local cultures.
The new law will promote construction of roads in Purus, a region that borders Brazil and contains four national parks that encompass parts of the Amazon Rainforest. The law was passed in Peru’s legislature and faces no opposition from the Peru’s president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.
The law is under much criticism both locally and internationally due to previous commitments made by the Peruvian government through climate change pacts and trade deals with the United States and the European Union.
Many fear that deforestation will aggravate through the expansion of road system and threaten the Amazon Rainforest’s precarious biodiversity. The Environmental Investigation Agency has stated that 95% of deforestation occurs within less than 6 kilometers of a road.
Concerns are also being raised over the future of the indigenous people who reside in five reserves that the road system will expand into, as these roads will inevitably bring new settlers to the region.
Many fear that as the roads bring an influx of loggers, miners and drug traffickers, contacts and conflicts with local tribes will become deadly, as these tribes are not immune to many of the diseases prevalent in outside societies. The roads will also fragment the homelands of these indigenous tribes, potentially ending their previous isolation and independence from the outside world.
This new law comes as part of a growing concern over the threats that the Amazon Rainforest is facing due to the desire for economic development. For many South American countries, the competitiveness of export sectors like cattle and soy beans has largely taken precedence over environmental concerns.