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Deforestation in Venezuela surges as gold miners ransack the Amazon

The loss of pristine forest is estimated to be increasing by around 170 per cent annually in Venezuela – an even faster rate than Brazil – as a result of a state-sanctioned boom in gold mining

Environment 9 December 2022

A gold mine in Bolivar state in the south of Venezuela

A gold mine in Bolivar state in the south of Venezuela

JORGE SILVA/REUTERS/Alamy

The destruction of the Amazon rainforest is accelerating faster in Venezuela than in any other country, spurred by a state-sanctioned boom in gold mining.

“No one is seeing this destruction because it’s happening so fast that it’s impossible to measure,” says Alejandro Álvarez Iragorry, the coordinator of Clima21, an NGO that promotes environmental human rights in Venezuela. “The environmental damage and the speed with which it’s happening is disastrous.”

Around 63 per cent of Venezuela’s land is covered by natural …