Illegal logging in the Amazon: See it to believe it


While certainly not a new issue, it is understood by most that the global environment is in crisis thanks to plenty of focus and coverage by the media. Some however choose to keep a blind eye to such a dire issue if it means it can result in a financial gain. The eastern Amazonian region of Peru, prided for its bounty of flora and fauna, is falling victim to issues of illegal logging and deforestation. This may seem like an internal issue, but international new media, perhaps necessarily, is taking note of this problem.

A 2012 World Bank report estimated that 80% of Peruvian timber export stems from illegal logging. Recently, a photo essay published by the British Broadcasting Company (BBC), used striking images near the Nueva Esperanza village, to tell the dark story. The UK-based news service includes photos of the men and families, some of whom have built camps in the remote areas of the jungle to dedicate their lives to the illegal business.

A leader from one of the camps tells BBC photo journalist, Fellipe Abreu, that the illegal activity has become accepted even by members of the local police department. He explains that agreements can be made between authority figures and the illegal loggers (who would generally be considered criminals) with a monetary exchange. That’s how it works here, he explains.

The remote location provides the men enough distance it seems from authority and logging regulations that their activities of chopping, hauling and dragging wood go undisturbed. Set against the luscious greens that still stand, Abreu´s images, without caption, would be an exemplary expression of camaraderie and work ethic.

Not always are the criminals a group of unknown individuals, but often, as recently experienced by the Amazonian regions of Loreto and Pucallpa, businesses hire labor to slash and burn forested areas. It was reported that the company Plantaciones de Ucayali S.A.C. In just a year and a half, as reported by Peru21, this company has cleared an area “equivalent to the districts of Santiago de Surco, San Borja and San Luis together”. Perhaps the most disturbing information uncovered in the report however is that Ucayali´s Department of Agriculture sold forested land to the guilty company, at a price of 11 cents per meter.

Peru continues to gain tourist attraction, largely due to the natural landscapes offered, yet these unthinkable acts continue to tear Peru apart, in both an environmental and political sense. The pay offered in illegal logging and deforestation is too tempting for men willing to provide labor to companies who likewise are looking to earn big bucks, no matter the route taken. While photographers, videographers and reporters make efforts and take risks to expose the tolls taken on the jungles of Peru, a space that takes up nearly two-thirds of the country, it seems to be out of reach for those who could implement consequences upon the criminals.
The damaging business is gaining more exposure in international media.