Some hours outside the Fauna Forever base in Puerto Maldonado, the extent of deforestation, primarily caused by goldmining in the area, becomes apparent.
Paradoxically, the forest on one side of the road sits within the reserve, whilst the forest on the other side of the road is ravaged by pollution, mining, toxic chemicals and human impacts.
It’s a stunning illustration of the occasionally ill advised nature of environmental law. What makes forest on opposing sides of road more or less vulnerable to destruction comes down to a piece of paper and a strip of tarmac.
Equally, there are no patrols, no towers, literally no form of intervention, control or governmental presence here to ensure that the protected forest remains so. It is protected solely in name, not in action.
This begs the question of how long miners and other individuals seeking a more profitable form of existence will respect rules without any concrete form of enforcement. Insiders tell me this lack of enforcement comes down not to a lack of centralised cash, but a lack of governmental will.
The extent of the destruction and our ability to mine the heart from the earth are truly shocking when witnessed at first hand. This is not to deny that enormous swathes of Peruvian rainforest remain intact and unspoiled, but to act as a warning to their potential future.
The answers to these questions remain complex. Why does a government whose resources and profitable future exists in the rainforest allow such ill advised practices to take place? For how long can it waste the heritage it is denying future Peruvians?
These questions are not for external NGOs to answer, but for internal policy makers to face up to.
The answers to the dilemma will define work patterns, standard of life, global climate change and the lives of millions of human beings. They are crucial, tangible and undeniable. Yet they must be made internally, not internationally, in order for the most meaningful decisions.
Whilst these issues may seem vexed and challenging, in reality they really on intelligent, resourceful decisions, which create the right opportunities for rainforest to be protected.
The actual protection may stem from private businesses, NGOs, government, or, most meaningfully, from ordinary Peruvians.
These are the people whose land this is. These are the people whose incomes and livelihoods depend on this land. These are the people who deserve a stake in the future of this most bountiful of environments.
Let us hope tomorrow’s futures can be bright.