'Free-for-all' illegal logging of mahogany in Peruvian parks, says Duke-based monitoring group

DURHAM -- A new report http://www.parkswatch.org/spec_reports/logging_apnp_eng.pdf by ParksWatch, a Duke University-headquartered organization, presents evidence of illegal mahogany logging inside the remote Alto Purs National Park in the Peruvian Amazon. The information was gathered during a month-long jungle expedition just weeks before the protected area received a national park designation.

The report is available on a section of ParksWatch's website, http://www.parkswatch.org/main.php?l=eng&p=videos.

The expedition's leaders and the report's authors are Chris Fagan and Diego Shoobridge of ParksWatch, a program based at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences that monitors protected areas in seven Central and South American nations.

Illegal logging in the Alto Purs, which takes mature seed-producing trees, threatens one of the richest reservoirs of the prized and hard-to-grow species left in Peru, the two investigators wrote in their report.

Fagan, ParksWatch's former director and a research associate at the time of their visit, and Shoobridge, the current director of ParksWatch Peru, made the jungle trek from September 16 to October 15, 2004. The trip was funded by an anonymous donor, Fagan said in an interview.

"Until our investigation, the only people who knew what was going on in this remote region were the loggers and drug traffickers and a relatively few local people," said Fagan, who until recently was a ParksWatch consultant. "These loggers are basically having a free-for-all in these forests. Hopefully this report will spur action."

Just weeks after the expedition's conclusion, Fagan and Shoobridge learned that Peru was reclassifying the reserved zone as a national park. "This process would have required several years and involved many different org

Contact: Monte Basgall
Duke University

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