A leaked document obtained by The Guardian newspaper reveals secret plans by Argentine gas giant Pluspetrol to explore for natural gas in Peru’s Manú National Park World Heritage site, one of the most biodiverse areas on the entire planet. The plan also includes areas inhabited by uncontacted tribes in southeast Peru that are extremely vulnerable to contact with outsides.

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The document written by Lima-based environmental agency Quartz Services also reveals that Pluspetrol has already been turned down once for fossil fuel exploitation in the park. According to Peruvian law and the 2003 Supreme Decree, national parks are off-limits to such activities.

Pluspetrol already runs a gas drilling operation near the park in an area called Lot 88, but the new information reveals that the company now plans to expand operations beyond it into an area that has been dubbed ‘Fitzcarrald.’

Fitzcarrald would cut the Nahua-Nanti reserve for isolated and uncontacted Indian tribes in half and go into the Manu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site famed for being one of the biggest protected areas in the world and home to the some of the greatest biodiversity in the world.

“It’s shocking. This is the first time we’ve seen evidence for plans to expand hydrocarbon activities into Manú,” anthropologist Daniel Rodriguez told The Guardian.

“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.

Via The Guardian

Photos by Flickr users Jose Orihuela and jrothdog