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An especially sanguine view of the Amazon jungle in Peru on Oct. 12, 2018. Kjell Eson / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

By Genevieve Belmaker and Joseph Charpentier

Throughout 2018, forests continued to be threatened and destroyed. From the Amazon, to the Congo Basin, to the Mekong Delta and scores of places in between—journalists reporting for Mongabay filed hundreds of stories about the world's forests.

Although the significance of any one story is difficult to gauge in the short-term, several Mongabay reports from 2018 stood out. These pieces dealt with illegal timber trafficking, advances in technology-based environmental protections and human rights protections for the people doing environment-defense work—formal and informal.

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Squid boats anchored in Paita, a port city in northern Peru. Humboldt squid support a massive artisanal fishery in this region. Allison Guy / Oceana

By Allison Guy

There are two ways to leave La Tortuga, a fishing town of 7,000 on the northern coast of Peru. One, a pitted gravel road, winds through a landscape of desert canyons and sun-scalded hills.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Panoramic view of the city of Ayacucho. Getty Images

Tragedy struck a funeral in Peru when 10 guests died after eating food that the health minister suspected had come into contact with insecticides, BBC News reported Wednesday.

Fifty-two guests were sickened at the funeral, which took place Monday in the southern Andean region of Ayacucho, CNN reported.

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Activists in Peru protesting the Conga mining project. Amnesty International

Authorities in Paraguay and Peru are unjustly criminalizing activists who speak out to protect their environment and land, an Amnesty International report released Thursday revealed.

The report, A Recipe for Criminalization: Defenders of the Environment, Territory and Land in Peru and Paraguay, outlined the three "ingredients" both countries use to undermine the efforts of activists. First, they delegitimize activists through smear campaigns. Second, they apply laws and regulations that allow for forced evictions. And, third, they misuse the criminal justice system to prosecute activists for unfounded reasons.

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Aerial view of Yaguas River and the Cachimbo tributary. Alvaro del Campo, Field Museum

The Peruvian government announced it will establish a new and enormous national park in the Amazon.

Yaguas National Park, located in the northern region of Loreto, consists of 2,147,166 acres of rainforest, a vast river system and is home to more than 3,000 species of plants, 500 species of birds and 160 species of mammals, including giant otters, woolly monkeys, Amazonian river dolphins and manatees. The park also features 550 fish species—one of the richest fish faunas in the world.

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Carl Safina

In the course of writing a book about what free-living animals learn from each other, I find myself on the Tambopata River in southeast Peru. The nearest town is Puerto Maldonado but from there the trip is all upriver. Wheeled vehicles are useless in this forest, and there are none. The surrounding forest has been officially protected with designations of national reserve and national park.

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Peru's National Forest and Wildlife Service, SERFOR, is investigating the deaths of hundreds of critically endangered Titicaca water frogs, whose bodies were found floating in the waters of Lake Titicaca, the only place in the world the species is found.

Hundreds of the critically endangered Titicaca water frogs have been found floating on the surface of the Coata River in southern Peru.SERFOR

SERFOR responded to the banks of the river in the buffer zone of the Titicaca National Reserve to investigate the reported deaths and found 500 dead frogs in a 200-meter (656-foot) area. However, based on statements from locals and samples taken in the days after, SEAFOR estimated that more than 10,000 frogs were likely affected in a 30-mile span.

SEAFOR's investigation found the presence of solid waste and sludge formation in the area. The Committee Against Pollution of the Coata River told the BBC pollution in the Coata River that flows into Lake Titicaca is to blame for the deaths, and that the government has ignored pleas to address the problem.

After this latest incident, committee leader Maruja Inquilla and other supporters brought 100 of the dead frogs to the central square in the regional capital, Puno.

"I've had to bring them the dead frogs," Inquilla told AFP. "The authorities don't realize how we're living. They have no idea how major the pollution is. The situation is maddening."

The committee said a sewage treatment plant is needed to clean up the lake and its tributaries.

Titicaca Water Frog Arturo Muñoz / iNaturalist.org

Titicaca water frogs are also known as Titicaca scrotum frogs because of their wrinkly, baggy skin that helps them breathe. They live their entire life in the water and it is estimated their population has declined by more than 80 percent over the past 15 years due to over-exploitation, habitat degradation and invasive species.

Food & Water Watch

By Mitch Jones

We’ve all seen the results in states across the country of the influence that the American Legislative Exchange Council and the Koch Brothers have amassed. And if you think the results of their agenda to hand more and more power to corporations at your expense are bad, you should really hate the new “trade” deals being negotiated to hand even more power to corporations at our expense.

The Transpacific Partnership (TPP) is being secretly negotiated by 12 countries, including the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Japan and Brunei. The Trans Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) includes the 27 nations of the European Union. Both of these proposed trade agreements threaten U.S. food safety rules, infringe upon public and private land with an increased push for fracking, undermine efforts to develop local food systems and increase the privatization of water systems.

While its supporters talk about them as “trade” deals, in reality the TPP and TAFTA would be a permanent power grab by corporations and their financiers that would make it impossible for future generations to choose what laws and rules they want to live under. They would permanently enshrine the very economic system that has lead to greater imbalances in income and wealth and increasing economic crises. These deals would also allow foreign corporations to sue the federal, state and local governments over laws and policies that violate the “trade” deal, but protect us from unsafe food, dirty water and dangerous fracking. It’s outrageous!

How do we know that these deals will give more power to corporations and leave our children, our air and water, and our food safety at greater risk? Because while the American people aren’t being told what’s in the deal, and while members of Congress are being shut out of the negotiations, representatives from more than 600 corporations and corporate interests are able not only to see the text of the agreement, but also are able to help influence what goes into it.

We need to stop these trade deals before they give even more power to corporations. Food & Water Watch just published a new fact sheet, Don’t Fast Track Fracking and Unsafe Food, with extensive details on these trade agreements and provides information on how to contact your representatives to oppose these corporate giveaways.

Visit EcoWatch’s FOOD and FRACKING pages for more related news on this topic.

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SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS BELOW: What do you think would be the result of these trade deals in the U.S.?

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Amazon Watch

On Feb. 1, hundreds of residents from the Amazonian city of Iquitos in Peru converged on the streets to defend their human right to clean water and denounce ConocoPhillips, Gran Tierra and Talisman Energy, who plan to drill for oil next to the Nanay River. The Nanay provides 95 percent of the drinking water for the city of 500,000 people.

The Iquitos mobilization, spurred by the regional federation Organization of Indigenous Peoples of the Eastern Amazon (OPRIO), launched at 3 p.m. from the Plaza 28 de Julio in central Iquitos under a banner reading "Water is Life!"

Students from universities across Iquitos as well as civil rights groups stood together with their indigenous brothers and sisters who have struggled for more than 40 years as a result of the contamination from oil production in Loreto.

"We join in solidarity with the struggles and mobilizations taking place throughout the country in defense of water, life and the rights of indigenous peoples to self-determination," OPRIO officials said.

"Just as our brothers from the coast and from the Andes suffer from negative impacts from mining, we the Amazonian indigenous peoples suffer from the abusive presence and contaminating activities of oil companies…which has contaminated our fish, our streams, our lakes, our lands, and the water that gives us life," continued OPRIO.

The organizers, representing more than two dozen indigenous federations from throughout the Peruvian Amazon, say the contamination has caused illnesses, deaths, and "converted us into the trash dump of oil companies," while bringing "development" only to the oil companies themselves.

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