By Amelia Harris, Wake Up World
Deforestation rates are declining globally, but the Amazon bucks this trend, with rates on the rise. Why? Geopolitical reasons are complex, but one major contributing factor is gold mining: a study looking at the 34 years to 2017 identified 100,000 ha of rainforest lost to artisanal gold mining, 21% more than had previously been estimated, with 10% of the overall figure lost in 2017 alone (1).
Mining strips rainforest trees and leaves behind damage to the waterways and natural ecosystems that result in a loss of wildlife and a myriad of other problems, but new research shows that there is an inexpensive and effective way to support reforestation in these areas.
What is Driving Rainforest Gold Mining?
When you think of gold mining, the Amazon rainforest is probably not what springs to mind. To understand why gold mining is increasing in the Amazon, we need to look at demand and the profit motive. Gold is mined around the world, but like most minerals in this modern age, demand is higher than the supply. The healthcare industry is a big user of gold, as is the tech industry – gold is used in mobile devices and cables and in environmental tech like solar cells. Of course, this precious metal is also in high demand by central banks and the fashion and jewelry industries (2).