The Mennonites, a religious (Christian) group often dedicated to organized agriculture, are increasingly inhabiting the western Amazon (Peru and Bolivia).
Here, we reveal the recent deforestation of 18,500 acres (7,500 hectares) in three Mennonite colonies (see the Base Map below).
The two colonies in Peru (Tierra Blanca and Masisea) are new, causing the deforestation of 6,200 acres since 2017 (including 3,500 acres in 2019) in the Loreto and Ucayali regions.
The colony in Bolivia (Río Negro) is older, but deforestation recently began to increase again, causing the deforestation of 12,350 acres since 2017 in the department of Beni.
Next, we present a series of satellite image videos showing the deforestation in the three Mennonite colonies.
Tierra Blanca (Perú)
The Mennonite colony referred to here as “Tierra Blanca” is located in southern Loreto region, near the town of Tierra Blanca.
Video A shows the deforestation of 4,200 acres in the Tierra Blanca colony since 2017 (Planet link). We note that 2019 experienced the most deforestation (2,470 acres).
The Mennonite colony referred to here as “Masisea” is located in northern Ucayali region, near the town of Masisea.
Video B shows the deforestation of 2,000 acres in the Masisea colony since 2017 (Planet link). We note that 2019 experienced the most deforestation (865 acres).
In the detailed map in the Annex, note that the deforestation has reached the limit of a protected area, Imiría Regional Conservation Area. In addition, deforestation has occurred within two native communities (Buenos Aires and Caimito) and a Conservation Concession managed by a Peruvian university.
Río Negro (Bolivia)
The Mennonite colony Río Negro is located in southeastern Beni department. There are several Mennonite colonies in southern Bolivia, but this is one of the first deeper in the Amazon (Kopp, 2015).
Video C shows the deforestation of 12,350 acres in the Río Negro colony since 2017 (Planet link). Much of the deforestation occurred in 2017-18.
Annex 1: Base Map
Annex 2: Detailed Maps
Kopp Ad (2015) Las colonias menonitas en Bolivia. Tierra. http://www.ftierra.org/index.php/publicacion/libro/147-las-colonias-menonitas-en-bolivia
Planet Team (2017). Planet Application Program Interface: In Space for Life on Earth. San Francisco, CA. https://api.planet.com
We thank H. Balbuena, A. Condor, and G. Palacios for helpful comments to earlier versions of this report.
This work was supported by the following major funders: Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), MacArthur Foundation, International Conservation Fund of Canada (ICFC), Metabolic Studio, and Global Forest Watch Small Grants Fund (WRI).
Finer M, Mamani N (2019) Mennonite Colonies: New Deforestation Driver in the Amazon. MAAP: 112.
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