China plans to build railway through the Amazon

The Guardian reports on a planned railway line that will run from one side of South America to the other, cutting through the Amazon in the process:

China's plans to build a railway through the Amazon jungle are likely to be met with resistance from environmental groups and indigenous organizations. Image credit: xura on freedigitalphotos.net

China’s plans to build a railway through the Amazon jungle are likely to be met with resistance from environmental groups and indigenous organizations.
Image credit: xura on freedigitalphotos.net

Chinese premier Li Keqiang is to push controversial plans for a railway through the Amazon rainforest during a visit to South America next week, despite concerns about the possible impact on the environment and on indigenous tribes.

Currently just a line on a map, the proposed 5,300km route in Brazil and Peru would reduce the transport costs for oil, iron ore, soya beans and other commodities, but cut through some of the world’s most biodiverse forest.

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China is playing an increasing role in Latin America, having tripled its share of regional exports in the past decade – particularly of food and minerals. But there is a considerable cost in terms of environmental degradation and social conflict, according to a recent Boston University study. Although major Chinese firms have put in place improved guidelines, conservationists and campaigners for indigenous rights fear this project will continue that trend by carving up nature reserves, crossing the land of uncontacted tribes and opening up indigenous land for development. This is expected to prompt an outcry.

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