Illegal logging widespread in Peru, says study

Apr 17, 2014
An aerial view of the Amazon jungle near Cuzco, 470 kilometers east of Lima, on May 18, 2011

A 14-year-old policy to encourage sustainable logging in Peru's Amazonian forest has unwittingly led to large-scale plundering, a study said Thursday.

In a paper published in Scientific Reports, researchers said was a "plague" on the Amazon watershed—a haven of biodiversity and precious hardwood species such as mahogany and cedar.

"Much of the timber coming out of the Peruvian Amazon is sourced outside of authorised concession areas," the researchers wrote.

A team led by Matt Finer of the Center for International Environmental Law in Washington trawled through data kept by agencies meant to enforce Peru's 2000 Forest and Wildlife Law.

The legislation empowers the government to award concessions for up to 40 years on public land between 4,000 and 50,000 hectares (10,000 and 125,000 acres).

These contracts come hedged with conditions: loggers must submit a five-year harvesting strategy, including a highly detailed, year-by-year plan that identifies each individual tree to be cut, with Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates.

Finer's team found that by September 2013, the authorities had scrutinised 388 of the 609 logging concessions.

More than 68 percent of the 388 were found either to have committed "major violations", or were suspected of it.

In 181 cases, the license was revoked. More than half of the recorded violations were for taking timber from a non-concession area or for unauthorised cutting of cedar and mahogany.

Additional work by non-government monitors and satellite images supported these findings, the paper said.

It faulted the system for placing too much trust in documents and for carrying out checks at ports rather than on-site, which thus enabled trees taken illegally to be easily laundered.

The investigation touches at the heart of difficulties to protect remote carbon-capturing tropical forests, which is one of the goals of UN efforts to combat climate change.

Some observers say the answer lies in putting forests under the control of local people, who have a more credible record of protecting the resource.

Alberto Pizango, head of the AIDESEP campaign group gathering dozens of indigenous communities in the Peruvian Amazon, said the investigation backed widespread anecdotal evidence.

"This new study supports the stories we are hearing from communities across the Amazon," Pizango said in a statement.

"The findings also reinforce our demand that the government help us to protect our lands, and that it recognise our rights over the forests where our peoples have lived for hundreds of years."

Pizango and other leaders have been accused of inciting clashes between police and native people in the Amazonian town of Bagua in 2009 that left 34 dead.

Explore further: 'Remarkable social progress' when forests are FSC certified, new study confirms

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

'Fingerprinting' trees to stop illegal logging

Mar 03, 2014

The University of Adelaide will help step up the fight against illegal logging with a new two-year, DNA-fingerprinting project in Indonesia. A US$518,833 grant for the project was announced by the International Tropical Timber ...

Amazon inhales more carbon than it emits, NASA finds

Mar 19, 2014

(Phys.org) —A new NASA-led study seven years in the making has confirmed that natural forests in the Amazon remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than they emit, therefore reducing global warming. ...

Recommended for you

Obama readies climate change push at UN summit

2 hours ago

President Barack Obama will seek to galvanize international support in the fight against climate change on Tuesday when he addresses the United Nations, with time running out on his hopes of leaving a lasting ...

New toxic spill traced to Mexico mine

2 hours ago

Civil protection authorities have confirmed new toxic spills in northwestern Mexico, where a massive acid spill from a copper mine contaminated waterways.

World greenhouse emissions threaten warming goal

16 hours ago

Emissions of greenhouse gases are rising so fast that within one generation the world will have used up its margin of safety for limiting global warming to 2°C (3.6°F), an international team of scientists ...

Tens of thousands join London climate march

17 hours ago

Tens of thousands of people in London joined a global day of protest Sunday to demand action on climate change, among them British actress Emma Thompson who said the challenge to save the planet was like ...

User comments : 0