"BOGOTA, Colombia — A commodity boom has helped pull millions out of poverty across South America over the past decade. It has also unleashed a new scramble for oil, minerals and cropland that is accelerating deforestation and fueling a new wave of land conflicts from Colombia to Chile.
Now, as prices for oil and other commodities slide, economists and environmental researchers warn that the loss of forest cover may be hastened, leading to new clashes, as governments in the region try to maintain growth rates and spending levels by driving deeper into the jungle.
Satellite imagery of the Amazon basin, the world’s largest tropical forest and a critical bulwark against climate change, shows a stark divergence in the continent’s preservation efforts. In Brazil, the pace of deforestation has been reduced 75 percent since 2004, largely the result of tighter regulation and new environmental protections."