Looking Internationally: Peru – Environmental Issues and Concerns

Far too often when we think about the environment, only our immediate surroundings or issues impacting our own nation crosses our thoughts. In one way or another, all life on this planet is connected; our nations are not as separate as we may think and, in fact, what is done in one country often impacts life in others.

Peru is the third largest country of South America and is split into three distinct geographical regions. The best known among these is the central High Sierra of the Andes, which has huge peaks, steep canyons, and amazing pre-Columbian archaeological views. It is still one of the world’s most unstable mountain ranges, with repeated landslides, floods and earth quakes. Despite of such instability, they are most beautiful pre-Columbian cities of South America.

Peru

Environmental issues and concerns in Peru

Even with low economic growth resulting from prolonged political unrest and economic turmoil following a 20-year war against  radical insurgent movements, the country has been able to maintain its environment and keep it in good condition. The liberalization of trade between the United States and Peru has opened a market that is considered high-growth and one that presents both opportunities and challenges for smaller US companies — but it also brings concerns to Peru and its environment. At this point, however, Peru’s beauty is sustained by its relatively few domestic environmental issues as governmental efforts to alleviate international environmental concerns such as deforestation, water pollution and soil erosion.

Environmental Issues

Peru is blessed with abundant natural resources and it is rich in flora and fauna; the nation’s resources have been ranked amongst the best in the world. Due to decades-long political turmoil, the nation has not been able to address all of its  environmental concerns. Many illegal acts had been on the rise until the government stabilized during the past few years; the nation has been able to reduce most of the key issues affecting the environment. Other issues affecting the country’s environment include general ecological problems affecting the whole world such as climate change. The country’s geographical location situates the nation in a major zone containing a wide variety of temperate forest trees. Climate change has been the major hindrances to achieving the standards written in the Kyoto protocol, the “international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which commits its Parties by setting internationally binding emission reduction targets.”

Gold mining

The process of mining gold involves using large quantities of water. When done locally, the only place one can get the amounts of accessible  flowing water is from the rivers. As a result, gold mining in Peru has led to destruction of river banks and clearing of floodplain forests. Most of the private or independent miners use mercury as part of the mining process. Research has shown that this component has a long lasting adverse impact to soil of the area around the mines as it leaks toxins and poisons into the ground.

Oil drilling

This activity has led to direct negative impacts on forests and birds. In 2005, the nation granted a contract to a Chinese oil drilling company, China National Petroleum Corporation, in the Madre de Dios which granted permission to drill the resource in the nation’s southern region. The area, once home to more than 10% of the world’s bird species, witnessed the depletion of this rich natural resource. Deforestation was the other result of oil drilling as the company had to clear large portion of the land to have enough space to carry out drilling activities.

Logging

Due to corruption, bribery and underfunded law enforcement, the country has been unable to stop this activity. Logging is the cause of deforestation in the country, with 95% of its mahogany being illegally cut and sold. The main areas targeted are the national parks and federal reserves.

Endangered animal species

The nation has established reserves and special monitoring of most endangered species such as the black spider monkey, yellow tailed monkey, several types of birds and reptiles such as leatherback turtle, spectacle caiman, the hawksbill and the American crocodiles.

Peru has some of the richest and numerous natural resources in the whole world. With lots of species summing up to 2,937, the nation is definitely a great place to visit. Birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and thousands of different varieties of plants.

Clearly, there is much to experience in this country. Check out the nation; whether it’s the flora and fauna, the beautiful environment or the cultural aspects, rather than reading about it, see things up close for yourself. There are many resources available to help you see the great beauty of Peru; don’t you think it’s time to visit our Latin American neighbors?

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Author: Laura Benson, globe hopper and environmentalist.