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Docs Reveal World's Most Biodiverse National Park Targeted by Gas Company

Common Dreams staff

Manú is home to 10% of the world's bird species, 5% of all mammals and 15% of all butterflies, as well as rare animals like jaguars and giant armadillos. UNESCO has declared the park a World Heritage Site and biosphere reserve, and says it is more biodiverse than any other place on the planet. (Photo: A. Solimano / PromPeru)

Previously undisclosed documents obtained by The Guardian newspaper reveal that gas giant Pluspetrol maintains both a desire and a strategy for extraction operations inside Peru's Manú National Park, which conservationists say is one of the most biodiverse areas on the entire planet.

Pluspetrol already runs a gas drilling operation near the park, in an area called Lot 88, but the new revelations show that a consulting firm hired by the gas company has put forward a strategy to lobby the Peruvian government for expanded access that would encroach the park's boundary and move into the protected area itself.

The Guardian's David Hill catalogs the collective shock of conservationists and those familiar with the park's indigenous inhabitants.

"It's shocking. This is the first time we've seen evidence for plans to expand hydrocarbon activities into Manú," said anthropologist Daniel Rodriguez, who has worked with Peruvian indigenous federation Fenamad for years.

"This proves what conservationists and indigenous rights activists have long suspected, but which petrochemical representatives and Peruvian officials have concealed or outright denied: that there are gas and oil deposits in Manú national park," said anthropologist Glenn Shepard. [...]

"Manú is probably the most biodiverse protected area on the planet," agreed Rob Williams from the Frankfurt Zoological Society. "Madidi in Bolivia is the only likely competitor."

"It's terrifying to think that Pluspetrol has been planning this," said Rebecca Spooner, a researcher at Survival International. "How can any company justify working in such a sensitive region?"

Last year, officials with UNESCO and others concerned about protecting the park, its wildlife and human inhabitants responded to rumors about such a project with disgust and worry, but until now had no solid evidence about Pluspetrol's possible plans.

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