A group of scientists in the Peruvian rainforest set out to prove that this biodiverse ecosystem is more resilient than we thought.
In the southeast department of Madre de Dios in Peru’s tropical rainforest, there is a district called Inambari. Between 70,000 and 80,000 hectares have been affected by mining in Madre de Dios overall. Inambari is the most affected of them all, according to the Ministry of Environment.
Agriculturist José Flores, after winning a legal battle against illegal miners who had invaded part of his 8 hectares of legally obtained terrain in Inambari, was left with a piece of his land highly contaminated.
Mongabay reports that while Flores and many other farmers are left wondering if the destroyed forest is gone for good, a group of scientists has come to the region to find the answer.
The research group, supported by the Municipality of Inambari, have created a “forest nursery” where they have begun to research which species of trees and plants can thrive and eventually be used to reforest the contaminated terrain.
This is totally uncharted water for these investigators.
One solution they are developing comes in the form of a special “biocarbon” super-fertilizer that would, instead of decomposing like most fertilizers, remain in the ground for thousands of years regenerating nutrients in the devastated soil.
The team has planted 20 species in the nursery.
These were selected to represent the whole of Madre de Dios’ biodiversity in a small testable selection. Those that grow successfully in the combination of destroyed soil and the biocarbon fertilizer will be planted on 40 hectares of affected areas.
The battle against illegal mining continues in the National Reserve of Tambopata, as evidenced by a massive recent police raid.
However, the researchers acknowledge that the illegal mining situation in Madre de Dios has spiraled out of the government’s control. They claim that with modern technology the mining could be done in a non-destructive way, but it must be formalized.
The scientists admit that even if their project is successful in restoring destroyed rainforest, the previous levels of biodiversity and ecosystem services cannot be fully recovered.