What has the destruction of balsa trees in the El-Salvador Email List Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest got to do with the wind power industry in Europe? As the international commitment to renewable energy has grown in recent years, the increase in wind farms has triggered a huge demand for El-Salvador Email List balsa wood, leaving a trail of deforestation in its wake. Balsa wood is used in Europe, and also more intensively in China, as a component in the construction of the blades of wind turbines. Already-installed wind turbines, with blades that stretch to 80 metros, can cover an area of El-Salvador Email List approximately 21,000 square meters, which is equivalent to about three football pitches.

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More recent wind turbine designs can El-Salvador Email List incorporate blades that are up to 100-metres long that consume about 150 cubic meters of balsa wood each – equivalent to several tones – according to calculations attributed to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. In 2018, international El-Salvador Email List demand for balsa wood increased significantly. The tropical wood is flexible and yet hard, while also being both light and resilient. Ecuador, which is the main exporter of balsa, with about 75% of the global market, is home to several large exporters, such as Planta Bal S.A. in El-Salvador Email List Guayaquil, which dedicates up to 10,000 hectares to growing the wood for export.

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Balsa fever The increased demand led to El-Salvador Email List the deforestation of virgin balsa in the Amazon basin, in what came to be known as ‘balsa fever’. Boleros began to illegally deforest virgin balsa from the islands and banks of the Amazonian rivers in an effort to overcome the shortage of cultivated wood. This has had a terrible impact on the Indigenous peoples of the Ecuadorian Amazon, in a similarly El-Salvador Email List brutal way to that caused by mining and oil extraction in recent decades, and the rubber boom at the start of the 20th century. In 2019, the extension of a road in the Pastaza province bordering Peru through Indigenous Shuar and Achuar territory to link the community of Copataza to El-Salvador Email List the western city of Puro caused controversy among the Achuar people.

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