Environment Ministry: Peru retains 90 percent of its Amazonian forests, despite deforestation

Peru retains 69 million hectares — or 90 percent — of its virgin Amazon forests, despite deforestation, according to a study by Peru’s Environment Ministry, official state new agency Andina reported.

According to the Ministry’s report, deforestation — caused by logging, industrial-scale agriculture, mining and oil extraction, and infrastructure and road development — resulted in the loss of approximately 150,000 hectares per year between 1990 and 2000.

Between 1980 and 1990, the rate of deforestation was 260,000 hectares per year.

To tackle deforestation and mitigate climate change, the Ministry of Agriculture launched a nationwide tree-planting project last January.

Peru’s Environment Ministry has also requested a $220 million loan from Japan to create and secure national protected areas, which are designed to preserve 18.2 million hectares of land – including 17 million hectares of forest – across the Andean country.

A scientific report prepared by The Andean Community, CAN, and presented in May 2008 to the EU-Latin American Summit, offered a devastating analysis of the effects of global climate change on the region in general and on Peru’s and Brazil’s Amazon basin in particular.

Fast-melting glaciers threaten to deprive 40 million people of water for human consumption, hydroelectric generation and agriculture by 2020, with the capital cities of Lima, Quito and La Paz among the hardest hit populations. The report predicts that economic losses from extreme weather shifts and disasters, including floods, droughts, freezing downpours of hail and landslides, could reach $30 billion by 2025 — the equivalent of 4.5 percent of Andean Community nations’ GDP — potentially halting development in Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Colombia.

Deforestation and a 30-year temperature rise that is 70 percent higher than the world average increase, along the eastern valleys of the Andes is threatening the ecological collapse and drying out of the Amazon rainforest, the report says.

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