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In 181 cases, the license was revoked.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

Nepal to end rescue operation on trekking route

30 minutes ago

Nepal was wrapping up rescue operations in its northern mountains Monday, saying all the hikers believed to have been stranded on a trekking route by a series of deadly blizzards are now safe.

Major breakthrough could help detoxify pollutants

14 hours ago

Scientists at The University of Manchester hope a major breakthrough could lead to more effective methods for detoxifying dangerous pollutants like PCBs and dioxins. The result is a culmination of 15 years of research and ...

Heavy rains leave 22 dead in Nicaragua

21 hours ago

Days of torrential rains in Nicaragua left 22 people dead and left homeless more than 32,000 others, according to an official report Saturday.

Plastic nanoparticles also harm freshwater organisms

Oct 18, 2014

Organisms can be negatively affected by plastic nanoparticles, not just in the seas and oceans but in freshwater bodies too. These particles slow the growth of algae, cause deformities in water fleas and impede communication ...

User comments : 0