In Peru, they’re planning to pave paradise and lay down a freeway. Scientists highlighted Peru’s Manu National Park last year as being at the top of the list of natural protected areas in terms of amphibian and reptile diversity. The park has been under attack by oil and gas exploration for years, but now, as David Hill of the Guardian writes, a potentially more serious threat to Manu is a 620-mile national highway that’s set to get underway.

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Parts of the southern branch of the Peru’s national “jungle highway” network, known as PE-5S, were built as early as the 1960s and currently consists of about 68 paved miles of road. But maps from Peru’s Ministry of Transport and Communications show the full planned route that runs straight through Manu, and also deep into a reserve for isolated indigenous peoples, near the Amarakaeri communal reserve. From there, it also runs through two other “protected national areas.”

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Hill notes that all indications show work is about to get underway on both the east and west sides of the road, which will join in the middle of the park.

Manu is a Unesco World Heritage Site and Unesco expressed concerns about “increasing pressures” the road would “likely” bring to Manu park in 2011. Unesco asked the Peruvian government to provide an “Environmental and Social Impact Assessment” by February of 2014, but it was never submitted. Scientists, along with others, have stressed how devastating building roads into fragile environments like tropical rainforests can be.

The Peruvian government didn’t provide any response to requests for comment on the issue.

Via the Guardian

Images via Shutterstock (1, 2)