Palm oil company destroys 7,000 ha of Amazon rainforest in Peru

A palm oil producer has leveled some 7,000 hectares of rainforest in the Peruvian Amazon, highlighting the risks of oil palm expansion in the world's largest tropical forest, reports El Comercio.

Between 2005 and 2011, Grupo Romero, a Peruvian conglomerate, converted thousands of lowland rainforest for three oil palm plantations in northeastern Peru despite a Ministry of Agriculture recommendation that palm plantations be developed on non-forested lands. Grupo Romero is now under investigation by Peruvian authorities, for violating article 310 of the country's criminal code, according to El Comercio. The company's activities have been documented with photographs and satellite imagery, refuting Grupo Romero's claims that it has only been planting land that had been deforested long ago.

"Those planning to raze the Amazon forest for industrial oil palm plantations should be on notice," Clinton Jenkins, a GIS-expert at North Carolina State University, told "We can see everything they do from space, and so they will be exposed when they lie."

The report comes a year after a study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters found that 72 percent of oil palm expansion in the Peruvian Amazon since 2000 has come at the expense of forest. The study concluded that expansion into forest areas was more common with industrial plantations like those run by Grupo Romero, rather than low-yield plantations established by smallholders.

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