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What is the link between deforestation and gold mining activity?

According to a recent study published in the journal ” Environmental Research Letters”, there is a strong relationship between deforestation due to gold extraction and gold prices at the regional level.


Tropical forests in South America are increasingly threatened by gold activity, which has been increasing for several years due to high global demand and rising gold prices. The objective of this study was to evaluate the regional and national drivers of deforestation due to the extraction of gold on the Guiana Shield. The authors, two of whom are members of the LabEx CEBA, have been able to demonstrate this link using annual deforestation data covering Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana and the State of Amapa (Brazil). This work thus provides the first long-term assessement of deforestation due to gold-mining in this region.

Evaluating the gold mining activity associated with deforestation was a challenge for these researchers as it required high spatial and temporal resolution data to cope with the small geographical extent and high temporal variability. At the national level, they were able to highlight a difference between the East and West side of the study area. In the west, including Guyana and Suriname, deforestation due to gold mining has  increased greatly during the time-lapse considered. On the other hand, in the east consisting of French Guiana and the state of Amapa, deforestation has stagnated due to more severe environmental policies.

The authors highlight, through this work, how gold mining activity challenges the cornerstones of REDD+ and give recommendations to policy makers regarding the efficiency of current national policies against illegal gold mining.

More information on CIRAD website.