Cataloging environmental damage from illegal mining and logging in the Amazon is the focal point for a fleet of Peruvian drones and air force personnel, the Ministry of Defense said Wednesday.
Thousands of photographs taken during an “unprecedented” three-day procedure high above the Amazonian region of Madre de Dios unveil the center of Peru’s mining and deforestation crisis, the ministry said in a statement.
Many of the “more than 20 thousand aerial images (...) show the pernicious effects of illegal mining and other illicit activities on forests, were captured,” and will help authorities determine the level of damage impacting both the environment and biodiversity.
The thousands of images showed engines operating near bodies of water, mining and logging camps, tailings in lagoons, fuel tanks, and people operating dredgers and paths where trucks and tractors tore into the jungle.
"The photographs and videos captured during the overflight in Madre de Dios allow us to appreciate precisely how illegal mining activity affects the Amazon by causing deforestation," Col. Luis José Callirgos, of the Peruvian Air Force (FAP) Aerospace Control Command, told Peru’s state media.
The 20,000 pictures and about 30 hours of video will be delivered to the Public Ministry, the Ministry of Culture, Regional Government of Madre de Dios and Captaincy of Puerto de la Marina de Guerra as well as a number of NGOs for awareness of environmental protection and biodiversity.
Criminal organizations earn roughly US$2.6 billion in the illicit mining, production, and sale of gold from the Amazon, state authorities say.
Over the last 15 years, deforestation has increased by over 3 percent. In the last year alone, satellite pictures show that 143,000 hectares of Amazonian forests were destroyed (approximately 200,000 soccer fields). While within the first six months of this year, and additional 23,204 hectares of Amazonian rainforest disappeared.