New bad ag projects threaten Peruvian Amazon

Thursday, October 19th, 2017

Analysis of satellite imagery has unearthed evidence of rapid, industrial-style forest clearance in an area of the Peruvian Amazon where six farmers were recently assassinated.

The Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP) identified deforestation inside protected areas in Ucayali province, and indications of roads created to facilitate much larger clearances.

In September, six members of a local agricultural association were tied up and shot near one of the cleared areas. The attack stemmed from a dispute over the ownership of agricultural land in the area, with evidence pointing to the involvement of land traffickers.

Image: Deforestation just north of the Imiria Conservation Area in Ucayali, which took place between June and September 2017. Courtesy of MAAP.

MAAP analysts said it was “very unlikely” that the recent clearances were the work of smallholders. They occurred rapidly, requiring expensive machinery, and in a manner that suggests a long-term plan to develop the site.

“Where you can see straight access roads, you are probably tracing the beginnings of an agro-industrial project,” the sociologist Juan Luis Dammert told Peruvian newspaper La Republica, describing the clearance pattern apparent in two of the cleared areas.

MAAP identified the destruction of 360 hectares of primary rainforest in the provinces of Ucayali and Loreto, both of which have experienced extensive illegal clearances for palm oil and cocoa plantations.

At least 76 hectares of the most recent deforestation is illegal, the analysis states, as it took place in an area of Permanent Production Forest.