Evaluation Suggests Amazon Road-building Projects Will Result in Deforestation of 2.4 Million Hectares

A crew of researchers from the U.S., Brazil, Bolivia, Sweden, Peru and Columbia has found that many of the road contracts at the moment planned for the Amazon rainforest have not been reviewed for environmental or economic impacts. Of their paper featured in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team describes their own evaluation of the impact of 75 planned road-building initiatives and what they found.

Evaluation Suggests Amazon Road-building Projects Will Result in Deforestation of 2.4 Million Hectares

Regardless of the vital role that the Amazon rainforest plays in trapping carbon, governments in the area proceed with approving road-building tasks, often without ever assessing the ecological impact of such initiatives, whether they will even be economically feasible. In this new attempt, the researchers analyzed 75 road-building efforts that are scheduled for the subsequent five years.

The researchers started by noting that the construction of the roads, which will build up to 12,000 kilometers of roadway, will cost roughly $27 billion. The roads will be built in Peru, Columbia, Ecuador, Bolivia and Brazil. They also note that the rationale for constructing the roads is to promote agriculture and cattle ranching. To evaluate the influence of the initiatives, the group chose to limit their study only to two decades.

The researchers discovered that building the roads would lead to deforestation of approximately 2.4 million hectares of rainforest. 17% of the initiatives are violating both environmental regulations and Indigenous rights.