U.S. Science Envoy Dr. Thomas Lovejoy was in Peru January 8-13. Known as the “father of biodiversity,” Dr. Lovejoy is a world-renowned authority on environmental issues. For more than 45 years, he has worked on issues involving the Amazon with entities like National Geographic and the Smithsonian Institution.
During his stay in Peru, Dr. Lovejoy spent time in the Peruvian Amazon. In Madre de Dios, he was able to see the important rich biodiversity of the Peruvian Amazon, its beautiful flora and fauna, its tropical forests and impressive rivers. Dr. Lovejoy was able to see the devastation and destruction caused by illegal gold mining that is causing deforestation, mercury contamination, and damage to waterways. Dr. Lovejoy flew over these devastated areas in Madre de Dios and saw the encroachment of illegal mining into Tambopata Reserve.
During his meetings with Peruvian government officials, representatives from civil society, NGOs, media, and the private sector, including Peruvian Minister of Environment Elsa Galarza, Dr. Lovejoy emphasized the need for sustainable management of the Amazon, integrating environmental protection and economic development with appropriate incentives. This requires regional cooperation because, as Dr. Lovejoy noted, the future of the Amazon in Latin America depends on what is done, or what is not done, in Peru.