Managing tropical forests in the Peruvian Amazon

Geographical location:

Latin America/Caribbean > South America > Peru

Members of the Lagarto communities participating in planning workshop. Peru.
© WWF Peru

Summary

The Peruvian Amazon is home to some of the world’s most spectacular wildlife such as the jaguar, harpy eagle, scarlet macaw, giant river otter and black spider monkey. It is also one of the last refuges for highly valued big-leafed mahogany and other tropical hardwood trees. Illegal logging, however, is a major threat to the environment and the people that live there.

WWF is working with a number of indigenous communities in several parts of the rainforest – Loreto, Madre de Dios, Ucayali and Junin – to encourage sustainable management and conservation of forest resources and wildlife in 400,000 hectares of the Peruvian Amazon.

Background

The Peruvian territory is covered by 65 million hectares of Amazon tropical forests, of which 25 million have been identified as permanent production forests. In addition to this, titled indigenous territories cover approximately 9 million additional hectares, distributed in all of the Peruvian Amazon. These forests provide indigenous people goods and services for their survival, such as timber, fruit, wildlife for feeding purposes, medicinal plants, among other things.

Since the year 2000, Peru has begun a modernization process of its forest sector, with the new forest legislation nr 27308. The latter has as an objective to norm, regulate and supervise the sustainable management and conservation of forest resources and wildlife of Peru. It establishes that the application of management plans is mandatory for all forest-related harvesting activities in the country. Given the current characteristics of forest harvesting, the new law has generated a demand to improve human capacities to formulate, apply and monitor management plans. The project will focus its activities in the implementation of new designing, planning and implementation practices for sustainable management, based on the principles and criteria of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), giving emphasis on the forests of indigenous communities in the Peruvian Amazon.

One of the most important problems that the implementation of this law faces is permit system for timber extraction in indigenous people's territories. These permits facilitate the laundering of illegal timber and the exploitation within indigenous territories. Unfortunately, some communities have established extraction contracts with timber companies, tradesmen and other groups with clear links to illegal logging. This happened for many reasons: they did not know about the forest legislation, had weak organizations, ignored market prices and the economic and ecological value of their forests. Hence, the current modality of harvesting does not allow for an increase in the income of indigenous people as a result of the low prices they are paid for their timber, also leading to unsustainable harvesting of highly valued timber species, both at the national and international level.

The project will be executed in 4 regions of Peru: Loreto, Madre de Dios, Ucayali and Junin. In each project site, a Regional Zonal Team (RZT) has been assigned, formed by a regional coordinator, an administrative assistant, a social specialist, a forest specialist, and a business specialist. In each of these areas the participation of indigenous communities and organization in project planning and monitoring activities is constant. WWF Peru is responsible for the financial and technical administration of the project in the regions of Loreto (Manseriche) and Ucayali (Atalaya), while the German Committee for the Fight against Hunger (DWHH) holds the same responsibility in Satipo and Cooperazione e Sviluppo (CESVI) in Madre de Dios. All of the project’s social components are seen as transversally by Ibis.

Objectives

This project seeks to contribute towards the conservation of the tropical forest ecosystem in indigenous communities of the Peruvian Amazon through a sustainable management of their forest resources.

Specific objectives include:

1. Institutional strengthening of indigenous federation for the sustainable management of their natural resources. This component will strengthen the socio-organizational capacities of indigenous communities in order to guarantee a total exercise of their collective rights promoting land tenure and sustainable management of their territories and natural resources. This component includes initiatives directly related to fighting illegal logging, one of the most critical factors currently affecting sustainable forest management and generating poverty within these communities. In addition to this, an intensive capacity building program in the establishment of policies for sustainable management and use of forest resources.

2. Land tenure and titling activities, sustainable forest management and voluntary certification. The project will seek to provide indigenous communities with the technical tools as well as the necessary technology to facilitate sustainable management of their forests. This component will seek to promote the establishment of a total of 400,000 hectares under sustainable forest management with General Forest Management Plans (GFMP) and Annual Operating Plans (AOP) as well as the voluntary forest certification of 10 consortium of communities.

3. Generation of direct economic benefits which will facilitate the creation and strengthening of multi-communal enterprises and production chains to link primary production of the communities' forests with transformation processes and the market. Through technical assistance in the development and implementation of business plans and an integral evaluation of contracts with timber companies, the project will make sure that indigenous people will have the necessary resources to negotiate with third parties and manage viable, profitable and sustainable enterprises in the long run.

Solution

This project will promote the conservation and sustainable management of the Peruvian Amazon tropical forests and will strengthen the modernization process of the forest sector in Peru, contributing to poverty reduction and indigenous people's exploitation, allowing that the Peruvian tropical forests fulfill their economic, social and environmental functions expected at the local, national and global scale.

Achievement

Main achievements during the first year of the project:

- The FORIN indigenous forest empowerment proposal is disseminated, reported, and validated in the project-involved communities. These, as a consequence, have established basic levels of acceptance and trust with the working technical teams. Likewise, the execution of the project is strengthening community interaction at three organizational levels: local settings (among communities, peoples, and their organizations), regional setting, and a national setting in alliance with the consortium.

- The participative undertaking of the diagnostic studies and life plans as well as their public distribution enabled the avoidance of the unilateralization of the forest issue and, instead, situated this specific field (areas, groups, contracts, impacts, etc.) into the integral context of each indigenous community, in particular, their ecosystems, production options, history, and interest groups.

- Several perspectives were integrated into the project execution: the forest, social, economic, cultural, legal, administrative, and technological. The cross-cutting nature of the socio-cultural component is fundamental for the project’s sustainability. What is being promoted is the intercultural adaptation of the operational strategies of indigenous forest management at the planning, land titling, vigilance, land measuring, forest harvesting, transformation, and business management levels.

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