South American Economic Unification May Threaten Amazon

A new report warns that unless proper precautions are take, a plan to unite South American economies through transportation and infrastructure projects could result in widespread destruction of the Amazon rainforest.

"An unprecedented development plan to link South America's economies through new transportation, energy and telecommunications projects could destroy much of the Amazon rainforest in coming decades, according to a new study by Conservation International (CI) scientist Tim Killeen."

"However, Killeen reports that such a disastrous outcome can be avoided if steps are taken now to reconcile the legitimate desires for development with the globally important need to conserve the Amazon ecosystem."

"Killeen, who has worked in the Amazon region for 25 years, fully supports the 12-nation IIRSA plan that seeks the historic goal of overcoming the geographic obstacles of the Amazon wilderness to connect the area's isolated economies. IIRSA investments will integrate improved highway networks, river ways, hydroelectric dams and telecommunications links throughout the continent – particularly in remote, isolated regions – to allow greater trade and create a South American community of nations."

"Killeen's analysis shows that IIRSA's development projects will coincide with mounting pressures on the Amazon's ecosystem and its traditional communities. These pressures include climate change; logging; deforestation for agriculture; and mineral exploitation, as well as the impending boom in biofuel crops such as sugar cane."

Full Story: Amazon Rainforest at risk from initiative to connect South American economies



South America's Amazon

As someone who has worked with rural communities in various South American countries, this all rings very true. When roads are present and timber can easily be extracted, the local population will invariably start to cut down any rainforest they own. Rather than trying to discourage the building of new transportation networks we should try to encourage forms of sustainable development for such communities.


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