In 2012, after decades of planning and years of construction, Peru's 1,600 mile-long Interoceanic Highway was finally completed. This feat of engineering crosses spectacular landscapes from the Pacific Coast over the Andes Mountains, through the Amazon Basin to the Brazilian border. Funded primarily by China and Brazil to expedite trade between the two nations, it's an apt symbol of the dual nature of development in today's globalized world. The highway brings opportunities and growth to remote communities and simultaneously enables activities which are breeding conflict. Yet, some of the planet's most biodiverse ecosystems and traditional cultures are under threat.
In some areas, the impacts of this road are far-reaching. The new highway has opened up vulnerable habitats to exploitation—namely in Peru's southern Amazon Basin, where once remote parts of the jungle are now easily accessed by those participating in illegal mining, logging, and poaching. Indigenous cultures are witnessing increasing rates of out-migration and encroachment of their land and resources. The Interoceanic Highway is accelerating it all.