January 19, 2012

Rainforest road to ruin

road_maker_dilwyn_2008_lr.jpgFierce battle emerges over proposals for road through some of the world’s most pristine rainforest

Roads bring benefits but there are also negative impacts and disbenefits which is particularly true when the route proposed goes through pristine, highly biodiverse, forest which also happens to be the home territory of at least two “uncontacted” indigenous tribes.


A recent article in The Ecologist, by David Hill, explained that tension is mounting over plans to build a highway through Alto Purus National Park, the largest in Peru.  According to experts, this is one of only a handful of places left in the world which is as important as Alto Purus in terms of both biology and culture.

“To cut it with a road would compromise the integrity of the entire basin and trigger the swift demise of some of the last isolated hunting and gathering tribes on earth,” explains Chris Fagan of the NGO Upper Amazon Conservancy.  The plan is for a road to connect with the inter-oceanic highway, a recently improved road link between Brazil and Peru’s Atlantic coast.

The only ways into the region at present are by plane, or arduous river journeys and foot trails, so there is building pressure from businessmen and even the church to build a road and put the isolation Purus firmly in the past, opening it up for trade and further settlement.   Around 3,500 people officially live in Alto Purus at the moment.  Yet almost 80% of the local inhabitants belong to indigenous communities whose representative organisations are firmly and actively against the plans for a road to Alto Purus.

Source: David Hill writing for The Ecologist



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