Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Amazon is gone.

Update below: images from space

Written in a hotel in Lima, Peru upon returning from the Amazon rain forest.

Two days ago I was in the Amazon. Nothing prepared me for the beauty of the place. Or it's immensity.
Early in my trip we flew over the Peruvian Amazon forest on the way to Pucallpa. I was stunned by the extent of clear-cutting, logging, farming, oil drilling. Throughout the flight I saw massive plumes of smoke from slash-and-burn clearing operations. We flew over patch after patch of cleared, cultivated land. I remember thinking, "The Amazon is gone. Get over it. It's gone."

Update 1: Pictures from space
The fires are so large they can be seen from space. The Brazilian Amazon rain forest, as seen from the International Space Station in 2011.

 Update 2: Peru increases protection of the Amazon
The Peruvian government has allocated significant funds to help protect a large swathe of the Amazon, home to several endangered species and indigenous groups.
Pink dolphins
The Peruvian National Protected Areas Service has pledged USD 280,000 to boost surveillance activities in the Alto Purus National Park and the Purus Communal Reserve – a total area larger than El Salvador. It covers some of the most pristine forests in the southwestern Amazon and shelters jaguars, pink dolphins, arapaimas (large freshwater fish) and other endangered species. It’s also home to at least eight ethnic groups, including an unknown number of indigenous peoples in voluntary isolation.

The director of WWF’s Amazon Headwaters Initiative, Jorge Herrera, says: “This represents a major success for all Peruvians. The government’s commitment to safeguard the Peruvian Amazon will help us build long-term conservation strategies for roughly three million hectares of some of the richest forests in the world.”

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