25 September 2014
From the Andes to the Amazon, Peru houses some of the world's most spectacular forests. Proud and culturally-diverse indigenous tribes inhabit the interiors of the Peruvian Amazon, including some that have chosen little contact with the outside world. And even as scientists have identified tens-of-thousands of species that make their homes from the leaf litter to the canopy, many thousands more remain undiscovered and nameless.
Yet Peru's forests are facing a barrage of threats: unscrupulous oil and gas companies, illegal logging, conversion for agriculture, massive road building, and industrial and artisanal gold-mining among others. Indigenous leaders have lost their lives striving to protect their forests, and some species are on the brink of extinction. The crisis has also spread beyond the forest: Peru's government and its civil society have been roiled by social and ecological conflict stemming from forest destruction seemingly far-away from the capital in Lima. While the battle for Peru's forests seems to have no end in sight, a new agreement announced yesterday at a landmark UN Climate Summit in New York City could prove a turning point.
Yesterday, the President of Peru, Ollanta Humala, announced that his country has signed a partnership with Norway and Germany to make his country carbon neutral in terms of deforestation and agriculture by 2021. Moreover, the Letter of Intent, as it is called, pledges to grant land title of at least 5 million additional hectares for indigenous tribes in the Amazon, something many tribes have been fighting long and hard for.
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