Dr. Joe Mascaro is the director of Planet’s Education and Research Program.

Illegal Gold Mine Encroaches into Protected Rainforest


From the beginning, Planet’s constellation of Dove satellites has been built around high-frequency imagery with the goal of near-real-time observation of change.

Today, we saw one of the most striking examples of this value proposition. As part of Planet’s Ambassadors Program, analysts at the Amazon Conservation Association used high-frequency Planet imagery to map illegal gold mining in Southern Peru.

Peru’s El Comercio newspaper cited Daniela Pogliani, executive director of the Association for the Conservation of the Amazon Basin on the illegal activity: “The images show an alarming trend of an activity that expands into new areas with terrible effects on the natural heritage.”

Since the price of gold skyrocketed after the global financial crisis, gold mining has been rampant in Peru’s Madre de Dios province. But as mines on land designated for legal extractions have depleted, miners have crossed into the Tambopata National Reserve, which El Comercio calls “one of the most biodiverse forests in the world.”

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Planet Labs imagery reveals illegal mining within the Tambopata National Reserve (south of the green boundary). Courtesy Amazon Conservation Association

The work of the Amazon Conservation Association is supported by Planet’s Ambassadors Program, and led by Matt Finer, an ecologist at ACA. To learn more, see our Planet Stories post, visit, and visit the MAAP Project website.

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