Posted on 18 April 2023
A new WWF report, "Extracted Forests: Unearthing the role of mining-related deforestation as a driver of global deforestation", sheds light on how the impacts of mining, currently the fourth largest driver of deforestation, increases significantly, affecting up to 1/3 of the world’s forest ecosystems, when indirect impacts are taken into account.
These indirect impacts, which include mining related infrastructure, settlements, agriculture through settlement, water and soil contamination and illegal logging, explain why demand by just six countries (often located far from the mines) are responsible for 51% of mining-related deforestation. 85% of the deforestation footprint of the EU, for instance, is located outside of the region.
More than 80% of direct mining-related deforestation takes place in just 10 countries, with tropical rainforests suffering the most damage – this most affected biome contains 29% of mining sites but 62% of mining-related deforestation.
Negative consequences for wildlife and ecosystems have already been recorded: the numbers of Indochinese tigers in the Greater Mekong region have decreased drastically due to habitat fragmentation from infrastructure development, and gold mining in the Amazon Basin has led to increased mercury levels in endangered species such as the Tucuxi river dolphin.
Mining activities have seen an alarming acceleration – more than 1/3 of the mining-related deforestation seen in the last 20 years occurred in just the last five years – and are tipped to increase in coming years.
Bad mining practices do not only lead to negative environmental impacts, they also result in negative social impacts and human rights violations that can only worsen if not addressed.
The report highlights how the rights of Indigenous communities are at risk in certain regions where mining expansion or processing of ores destroy ancestral territories, affecting and violating community interests.
By highlighting at-risk regions and both direct and indirect impacts that mining can have on forest ecosystems, the report provides governments and companies with an in-depth understanding of the challenges that need to be tackled.
“Metals are important for the development of human civilisation and the life we live today. But the footprint left by the extraction of these commodities has a heavy toll on ecosystems,” said Tobias Kind-Rieper, Global Lead Mining & Metals, WWF Germany
“Governments are in an excellent position to exert influence on and broaden the scope to demand transparency in mineral supply chains, reduce the use of primary raw materials and increase the use of secondary raw materials.”
For more information, contact Tobias Kind-Rieper (email@example.com
) and Moritz Kramer (firstname.lastname@example.org