Drug trade destroying forests in Peru: minister

December 29th, 2008 - 11:18 am ICT by IANS  

Lima, Dec 29 (IANS) Drug traffickers have destroyed nearly two million hectares of forests in Peru in order to grow coca, the raw material for cocaine, EFE news agency reported Monday, quoting the country’s Environment Minister Antonio Brack. “The traffickers invaded protected areas and cleared forests for land to grow coca,” the minister said, adding that this activity has destroyed “nearly two million hectares of forest” in the country.

Most of the damage has been done in the jungle regions of San Martin and Huanuco, and in the Valley of the Apurimac and Ene rivers, known as the VRAE region, according to the minister.

“The illegal trade has had a very strong impact on the environment,” Brack told the official Andina news agency Sunday.

Drug trafficking also affected the environment via the dumping of chemicals into rivers and other bodies of water, the minister said, and added that his department would work to restore forests in the areas cleared by drug traffickers.

“We can help restore forests and improve environmental systems in the drug zones, once they are pacified,” Brack said.

Peru which attracts millions of tourists every year, is also the second biggest producer of cocaine in the world. The street price for a gram of cocaine in Peru is less than $5 while it can fetch more than $100 in Europe.

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