USAID/Peru Madre de Dios Presentation


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From March 27-29, 2010, an interdisciplinary team from the U.S. Agency for International Development in Lima, Peru traveled from the mountains in Cusco to the Peruvian Amazon (Puerto Maldonado) on the Interoceanic Highway that will link Brazilian and Peruvian coasts. The team assessed potential benefits and negative impacts that this historic, transcontinental link will bring to the Amazon Basin. We spoke with Andean villagers who will have better access to markets to sell products, such as guinea pigs and alpaca garments, and with merchants and workers along the highway who mine and trade the gold that is bringing massive immigration and significant environmental damage to the Amazon. Finally, the team entered the famous Tambopata Reserve and saw the rich habitat, as well as environmental threats posed by agriculture and illegal logging. Throughout the trip, the team met with Peruvian officials to discuss how the U.S. government can better collaborate with the Peruvian government to assist with Peruvian efforts to manage the environmental and social impacts of the new highway.

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  • The road continues on to Rio Branco (pop 300k) and Porto Velho (400K). Rio Branco is 6 hours and Porto Velho 9 hours from Puerto Maldonado. Blue is entire highway, Red is what we drove.
  • A sluice box lined with riffles is one of the oldest forms of gravity separation devices still being used today. They are simple and have been in use all across the world for thousands of years. A sluice is really nothing more than an artificial channel lined with devices to catch gold through which water flows moving the lighter materials such as clay, sands and gravels out of the sluice. They heavier materials remain behind, trapped by the riffles. For many years, most sluice boxes were home made affairs designed and built by the gold prospector himself. To this day, in the gold bearing regions of  third world countries, prospectors design and build sluice boxes out of whatever materials are available locally. You don't really need any special sluice box plans - the exact size is really not all that critical.  They come in all sizes and a can range from small, portable aluminum models used for prospecting all the way up to large sluice boxes hundreds of feet long, which are used at fixed installations in commercial operations.
  • 125 square kilometers (48 square miles) Red is standing water with sediment, brown is stripped soil, and dark green is surviving forest.
  • Bottle holds 1 kilogram of mercury. The relationship of gold to mercury is 1 gram of gold to two grams of mercury, so for every gram of gold extracted roughly 2 grams of mercury is released into the environment.
  • Next room was laundry room and spare bedroom. EPA tests have found dangerous levels of mercury 8 blocks from smelters. The purpose of the retort is to separate the gold from the mercury components of the gold amalgam. By applying heat to the amalgam, the mercury is burnt off as a gas, and the gold remains in the distilling chamber of the retort.
  • The mercury vapors enter into the opening on the front of the barrel and re-condense as a liquid inside. The mercury can then be recovered and purified for reuse.
  • The contaminated river is a tributary of the Madre de Dios River. Huaypetue is 20 km from the Interoceanic Highway. Total deforested area in Huaypetue is 125 square kilometers (half the size of DC) Madre de Dios is the size of South Carolina or a little bigger than Panama. It is 1.7% of the Amazon Basin. The annual deforestation rate in MDD is 1.1%. 10% of MDD is deforested, almost all of it in the last 10 years. The worst year of deforestation in Brazil was 1995, in which it lost .7% of its forest.
  • Hectare of corn = $1,300 gross annual income Hectare of wood = $75 gross (simple, no value-added extraction) Hectare of Certified wood = $522 - $988 gross annual income Mayor of Tahuamanu makes s/.1,040 per month and can’t pay foresters more.
  • This wood was extracted from Tambopata Reserve Buffer Area. It may or may not be legal.
  • Peru’s Forest are important for the capture of carbon to mitigate climate change. We are looking to prevent conflict in a region prone to conflict over natural resources. We have a good partner in the GOP.
  • USAID/Peru Madre de Dios Presentation

    1. 1. SOUTHERN INTEROCEANIC HIGHWAY: CLIMATE CHANGE, BIODIVERSITY AND CONFLICT <ul><li>Andrew Herscowitz </li></ul><ul><li>Acting Director, USAID/Perú </li></ul>Social and Environmental Impacts of Southern Interoceanic Highway in Peru Prepared by US AID /Peru
    2. 3. <ul><li>Benefits of Road: </li></ul><ul><li>Road Worker earns: S/.900 ($320)/month </li></ul><ul><li>Minimum Wage: S/.600 ($213)/month </li></ul><ul><li>Freight from Brazil gets to China two weeks faster than shipping via Panama Canal </li></ul><ul><li>The Garcia Administration estimates the three interoceanic roads should add at least 1.8% annually to GDP. </li></ul>
    3. 4. <ul><li>Threats: </li></ul><ul><li>Destruction of Amazon and Biodiversity (mining, illegal logging, agriculture, dam, cattle) </li></ul><ul><li>Mercury poisoning (human, animal, and environmental impact) </li></ul><ul><li>Organized Crime (narcotrafficking, money laundering, human trafficking) </li></ul><ul><li>Social Conflict </li></ul>
    4. 5. Gold sluices which are used to separate gold from the alluvial soil.
    5. 7. Imported Mercury
    6. 8. Mercury vapor enters next room Artisanal retort (retorta) used to burn off mercury from the gold.
    7. 9. Mercury vapor condenser designed by EPA $650 Recovers up to 92% of mercury
    8. 10. The lowest paid worker in an informal mine earns $700/month. Local agricultural wages average $100-150/month.
    9. 11. Annual gold production in Madre de Dios estimated at 25 metric tons (880,000 ounces) This equals: $990,000,000 annual sales $30,000,000 unpaid canon (taxes) 50 tons of mercury released into soil and rivers 30,000 direct and indirect jobs
    10. 13. Google Earth image of contaminated Huaypetue and Puquiri Rivers. Inambari River shows normal sedimentation. Route of Interoceanic Highway. Note deforestation due to mining (white) in this area is as great as that due to deforestation due to agriculture (light green).
    11. 16. <ul><li>Collaboration with National and Regional Governments Essential to Address Threats: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Compliance Incentives for Good Forestry and Mining Practices </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Enforcement of Forestry Law and Land Use Zoning </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Conflict Prevention </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Readiness for Carbon Initiatives </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>