A pantropical assessment of deforestation caused by industrial mining

Stefan Giljum, Victor Maus, Nikolas Kuschnig, Sebastian Luckeneder, Michael Tost, Laura Sonter, Anthony Bebbington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Growing demand for minerals continues to drive deforestation worldwide. Tropical forests are particularly vulnerable to the environmental impacts of mining and mineral processing. Many local- to regional-scale studies document extensive, long-lasting impacts of mining on biodiversity and ecosystem services. However, the full scope of deforestation induced by industrial mining across the tropics is yet unknown. Here, we present a biome-wide assessment to show where industrial mine expansion has caused the most deforestation from 2000 to 2019. We find that 3,264 km2 of forest was directly lost due to industrial mining, with 80% occurring in only four countries: Indonesia, Brazil, Ghana, and Suriname. Additionally, controlling for other nonmining determinants of deforestation, we find that mining caused indirect forest loss in two-thirds of the investigated countries. Our results illustrate significant yet unevenly distributed and often unmanaged impacts on these biodiverse ecosystems. Impact assessments and mitigation plans of industrial mining activities must address direct and indirect impacts to support conservation of the world's tropical forests.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2118273119
Number of pages17
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS)
Issue number38
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sept 2022

Cite this