Part of Peru’s Amazon rainforest could be under threat due to a recently passed law. The move would allow roads to be constructed in Purus, a region The Guardian describes as the country’s most remote and pristine. It is also home to isolated indigenous groups.

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The law declares constructing roads in border areas as a “national priority and interest”. The area includes four national parks, and could impact five reserves for indigenous people The Guardian described as living in voluntary isolation.

Related: Scientists warn Amazon jungle faces “death spiral”

Lizardo Cauper, head of Aidesep, a Peruvian indigenous rights organization, told The Guardian, “These projects don’t benefit indigenous people. This is an area with isolated people who are extremely vulnerable. Roads bring outsiders who traffic our land, log our timber, as well as drug traffickers and illegal miners.”

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According to The Guardian, the law contravenes multiple international commitments Peru has made, including ones on climate change and trade. The publication also reported that Environmental Investigation Agency Peru director Julia Urrunaga said the new law contradicts a court ruling declaring the protection of the forest in Peru’s national interest.

The roads could could open up paths for deforestation – Urrunaga said 95 percent of this occurs less than six kilometers, or around 3.7 miles, away from a road.

The law was announced in the country’s official gazette mere hours after Pope Francis’ visit ended; during his trip he said Amazon’s indigenous peoples have “never been so threatened in their territories as they are now,” per The Guardian, and called for an end to exploitation of timber, gold, and gas in the region. In a Friday talk in Puerto Maldonado, the pope spoke out against “pressure being exerted by big business interests,” destroying this natural habitat important for the entire Earth.

Laura Furones of Global Witness told The Guardian, “This law makes a mockery of Peru’s climate change commitments and the recent visit by the pope.”

Via The Guardian

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