Amazon threatened by new wave of energy exploration

Energy companies are looking to open up around 68,000 square kilometres of the western Amazon, conservationists have warned in a survey that shows a sharp rise in land earmarked for oil and gas exploration.

The study, published in the scientific journal PLoS online, said regions designated for oil and gas projects in Peru and Ecuador already cover more than two thirds of the Amazon. Major increases in activity are also expected in Bolivia and western Brazil, it said.

The news has alarmed ecologists. "When you look at where the oil and gas blocks are, they overlap perfectly on top of the peak biodiversity spots, almost as if by design, and this is in one of the most, if not the most, biodiverse place on Earth" Matt Finer of US-based environment group Save America’s Forests, and who led the survey, told the Guardian.

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