Reassessing the Amazon and its role as a climate regulator
An interview with Alonso Córdova, WWF-Peru Coordinator in Madre de Dios.
In addition to its remarkable natural wealth, the Madre de Dios region in southeastern Peru is gaining attention for the increasingly complex environmental problems it faces. Nestled in the eastern edge of the continent’s great Amazon forest, the construction of the South Inter-oceanic Highway and a gold mining rush caused by the massive rise in the price of gold are just some of the recent threats faced by the area.
However, through the Round Table on Environmental Services and REDD+ (MSAR), the Madre de Dios region is also leading one of the most interesting processes in Peru to promote the conservation of its forests through REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation).
Recently, through the Ministry of the Environment (MINAM), the Peruvian Government has been increasingly acknowledging this important effort, actively driven by several public and private institutions on a local level. To learn more about this work and the potential of REDD+ to foster a sustainable development strategy for this region of the Peruvian Amazon, we interviewed engineer Alonso Córdova, WWF-Peru Coordinator for Madre de Dios, and MSAR’s Technical Secretary.
How did MSAR start and who participates in it?
AC: MSAR started in 2009 as a result of the joint effort by different regional stakeholders interested in boosting REDD+ locally and ramping up regional experiences to help in the process of developing national REDD+ methodologies and policies.
WWF is working with MSAR, on the vision to include all forest stakeholders: regional government, civil society, indigenous associations, private companies and associations of producers. It is based on this joint effort that MSAR has gained strength and is now fostering very important processes.
Which initiatives is MSAR currently leading?
AC: We are currently defining the deforestation base-line for Madre de Dios, as well as the assessment of seven methodologies to measure deforestation at a local level.
The base-line is crucial in order to know how much has been deforested and at what speed, and based on this, to make projections for future scenarios. The assessment of methodologies is critical to define how the data must be gathered (in the field and through satellite images) to determine the rate of deforestation and forest degradation.
Of the seven methodologies being tested, the one that aligns best to international standards and is most easily replicated elsewhere will be chosen. Finally, the selected methodology will be presented to MINAM with the objective of being incorporated to the national REDD+ strategy.
What potential do the forests of Madre de Dios have to store carbon and mitigate the effects of climate change?
AC: They have a lot of potential that is not yet fully known. There are several types of forests in Madre de Dios and each one has a different capacity to store carbon. In this regard, we are currently developing the Bio-mass Map of Madre de Dios’ forests. This involves collating information collected by different institutions that measures the volume of living matter in six hundred bio-mass parcels within the region. With this information, we will be able to estimate the quantity of carbon stocked in each type of forest and then in the entire region.
How do you envision the future of Madre de Dios based on its progress on REDD+ and towards a green economy?
AC: What we are achieving in Madre de Dios is really important. We are currently proposing activities and methodologies developed locally to contribute towards a regional strategy to tackle deforestation, which can then be used by the national government as part of the national REDD+ strategy.
Besides REDD+, the Madre de Dios region is building a policy framework that aims towards a low carbon development strategy based on the conservation of its forests, the sustainable management of natural resources, as well as the implementation of river basin and landscape management approaches.
This WWF project is made possible thanks to the support of the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Sall Family Foundation.
(Reporting by WWF-Peru and WWF’s Living Amazon Initiative)