São Paulo, Oct 25 (EFE).- The expansion of mining activities in the Amazon River basin, the world’s largest, threatens over 33% of the region’s untouched tropical rainforests spanning eight countries, according to a study released by the NGO Earth InSight.
The study released Tuesday reveals that over 170 million hectares of these pristine forests “overlap with active mining concessions (around 71 million hectares) and potential ones (approximately 99 million hectares).”
“In an extreme threat scenario, over 16,000 populated areas and 27 million people are within active and inactive mining concessions,” emphasized the report presented during a virtual press conference by the organization’s executive director, Tyson Miller.
Hydrocarbon industry expansionAnother significant threat is the hydrocarbon industry’s expansion, particularly in oil and gas. The report indicates nearly 13% of the Amazon Basin’s intact forests are at risk.
This encompasses 65 million hectares of untouched forests and over 31 million hectares of indigenous territories.
“More than 13,000 populated areas, representing nearly 14 million people or over 23% of the Amazon’s populated locations, now live within oil and gas production and exploration blocks,” the report stresses.
The study points out that around 26% of the Amazon region displays signs of deforestation and high degradation, 6% is heavily degraded, and in 20% of the area, the changes are irreversible.
Risks to indigenous populationsConcerns mount for the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin (COICA), a collaborator in the study. The organization not only underscores environmental impacts but also the repercussions on local communities and over 500 indigenous tribes inhabiting the region.
In the press conference, COICA’s general coordinator, Fany Kuiru Castro, discussed the worst drought the Brazilian Amazon has faced in recorded history.
“Indigenous people suffer not only from pollution and degradation of our ancestral lands but also from nature’s wrath. Today, our Amazon is gasping; it’s dry. The largest river has turned into a mere stream. Hence, deforestation must stop. Degradation must cease. Fossil fuels need to end,” asserted Castro.
She also advocated for the demarcation of indigenous territories to ensure environmental protection in the region, emphasizing the significance of indigenous knowledge systems in maintaining ecosystem balance.
“We shouldn’t wait; we must move forward. Deforestation, fossil fuel exploitation, and forest degradation in Amazon territories must be halted now,” she affirmed.
Three basins crucial for climate stabilityThe report also provides insights into two other basins vital for the planet’s climate stability and biodiversity conservation: the Congo in Africa and Borneo-Mekong in Southeast Asia. Both face similar challenges.
Titled “Report of the Three Basins: The Threats of Fossil Fuels, Mining, and Industrial Expansion to Forests and Communities,” the document unveiled that nearly 20% of the intact forests in these three regions fall within active or potential oil and gas concessions.
It also highlighted that over 200 million people, amounting to 20% of the total population of the three basins, reside in hydrocarbon blocks.
Moreover, in Indonesia, nickel deposits span over 3 million hectares, with 2.5 million of them located in natural forests, posing a massive deforestation risk.
“The findings underscore the critical need for a moratorium on expanding industrial activities in primary and priority forests globally,” the text claims.
In response, it suggests financial solutions, such as debt relief or subsidy redirection, and other innovative measures “to preserve these global treasures and cater to development needs.”
Earth Insight, sponsored by the Resources Legacy Fund based in Sacramento, California, collaborates worldwide with experts in mapping and spatial analysis, communications, and policy.
Primarily, the NGO is committed to promoting transparency and mapping vital threats to safeguard terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and the indigenous and local communities relying on them. EFE