Illicit gold mining has taken a toll in the rainforest of the Amazon where large expanses of land have been converted into wasteland by people who are egged on by greed. They arrived searching for gold much like the people who flocked to California during the gold rush and do not bother about damages to the ecology of the surroundings.

According to the government of Peru, large tracts of Madre de Dios have deteriorated into a wasteland. People have landed up there with equipment to clear the ground in their search for gold, and have created an unhealthy atmosphere that is taking a toll on the surroundings.

Effects of illegal gold mining

CNN reports that satellite imagery from 2016 has revealed the extent of devastation from illegal gold mining in the rainforest of the Amazon. The destruction of nearly 600 square miles of greenery has left in its wake, a vast toxic wasteland that is unable to support vegetation. This is evident from the absence of trees, and wildlife that is on the verge of disappearing. This is the situation now, in 2017, which is no better than in 2016. Statistics compiled by a specialist group called, Amazon Conservation, indicates loss of nearly 1900 acres to illegal mining of the yellow metal.

The worst part is that the miners use primitive methods to extract the gold manually.

Thousands of people are engaged in this activity, and the process they use leaves behind a mercury amalgam which is harmful to not only humans but also the environment. Peru used to be known for exporting cocaine. It's now been replaced by gold.

How to check the trend

The Center for Amazonian Scientific Innovation has undertaken studies to examine the effects of illicit gold mining in the Amazon, and how it affects various aspects of human health apart from environmental impacts on the rainforest.

Luis Fernandez, the executive director of the Center for Amazonian Scientific Innovation, has expressed his opinion. He feels that the high price of the yellow metal coupled with the poverty of locals has created a difficult situation. Fernandez was associated with the US Environmental Protection Agency and is aware of links between mercury poisoning and deforestation trends.

However, it would be difficult to evolve a solution because a full crackdown would mean a loss of livelihood for miners who want that ride to prosperity from the gold they extract. The Peruvian government will have to make tough decisions and take decisive action to save the greenery before it is too late.