We are Down to Earth in Peru on a police patrol to La Pampa, a wasteland on the outskirts of the Amazon. In the last six years 50,000 hectares of rainforest have been obliterated in this region, most of it due to illegal gold mining. Today the authorities are clamping down.
Despite efforts to halt deforestation, the number of trees being cut in Peru has jumped 80% since the start of the century. NGOs such as Rainforest Alliance are working with local communities to prove that protecting the forest - and adding value to existing renewable resources - offers a more lucrative and sustainable income over the long term. Tourism could be the most promising. If visitors are willing to pay large amounts to see unspoiled virgin rainforests, it may be the most powerful evidence that trees in the Amazon are worth more alive than dead.