Days of hope in the peruvian Amazon



Posted on 09 December 2013  | 
Puerto Esperanza
© Diego Pérez / WWF PerúEnlarge
As you read this, after two years of hard work and increasing enthusiasm, the Ashéninka indigenous community of Puerto Esperanza (Port Hope, in English) has achieved the impossible for most communities: a license for a large scale timber harvest operation, FSC forest management certification, and fair trade agreements with three timber companies in benefit of 71 families.

This is just the beginning of upcoming ‘good times’ for this community in the Atalaya province of the Peruvian Amazon, which encompasses some of the most biodiverse and culturally rich rainforests worldwide.

This was not easy for either side. Communication issues, as well as “ways of doing business” between communities and private companies and timber traders were difficult to overcome. Moreover, unpredictable climate patterns considerably delayed commercial transactions related to the first year of harvest, thus affecting potential buyers and community´s motivation, worried for the delay in generating the long-awaited income. There have also been many challenges for Puerto Esperanza, such as reaching agreements with neighboring communities, as well as driving an effective control of forest management operations through community monitoring.

Puerto Esperanza has limited access to healthcare services, and education is limited. Also, the community has no drinking water or electricity services, relying on two water dwells for water provision (unfit for use during the dry season), and on a small engine and solar panels for occasional electricity provision. It is even difficult to benefit from the few government programs which include indigenous communities as beneficiaries due to the lack of transportation means. The community’s meeting room, where most consultation and decision making processes related to forest management and trade take place, has a dirt soil and its roof is falling apart. Addressing these needs was the main reason for the community to engage in forest management, as clearly reflected in their investment plan, where resources have been set aside to ensure ongoing forest management efforts and help to solve these issues.

The operation contract between CFA and Puerto Esperanza is quite different from the traditional contracts between companies and communities, since the community had the chance to choose the most commercial species as part of its share.
Also, 90% of timber from two years of harvest has been logged down and transported to an accessible port to be sold by the community.

This is the first step along a promising path which has been possible thanks to support provided by the Peruvian NGO DAR, SNV, TRAFFIC and WWF Peru, and through the Living Amazon Project, and the Federation of Ashéninka Native Communities from the Atalaya Province, as well as the financial support from the European Union, WWF Germany and WWF Netherlands.


Puerto Esperanza
© Diego Pérez / WWF Perú Enlarge

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