As one of the world’s most biodiverse countries, Peru has an abundance of natural resources that have represented natural wealth throughout the nation’s history. However, this richness is not often fully understood and has been unsustainably managed as a result. Since 2010, an increasing turn toward a green economy has helped shift the way that Peru’s natural resources are viewed. This new perspective additionally considers the key role of natural capital and resources in environmental, social, and cultural well-being. This integrated approach to forest resource management is at the core of the Pro-Bosques Activity.
Forests at Risk
With more than 70 million hectares of forests—nearly twice the size of Germany—Peru has the second largest Amazonian forest coverage after Brazil. This extensive territory represents one of the country’s largest pillars of natural resources. It provides a vast array of ecosystem services (e.g., local and global climate regulation), protection of watersheds, and provision of timber and non-timber forest products (e.g., fruit and fish), contributing significantly to the local economy.
Unfortunately, deforestation in Peru’s Amazonian forests is gravely affecting those ecosystems. In 2018, deforestation loss in the Peruvian Amazon averaged 155 thousand hectares—roughly the size of Mexico City—marking an increase from the annual number of hectares lost since 2001. This is the context in which the Pro-Bosques Activity is being implemented, as part of the Amazonia Verde Project’s Forestry Program, to provide the pillars for sustainability, legality, inclusivity, and profitability to support and modernize Peru’s forest sector.
An Integrated Approach to Forest Management
The Pro-Bosques Activity is working towards this goal through a comprehensive strategy, which includes forest governance and sustainability. The Pro-Bosques Activity strengthens monitoring and law enforcement in the forest sector to increase legal timber for international and domestic use. Illegal logging is one of the main causes for forest degradation and negatively affects economic development and forest sector perception. The Pro-Bosques Activity works alongside public sector forest authorities to implement an integrated and comprehensive information system that will enable verification of the legal origin of timber, from its forest source to markets.
Forest Sector Competitiveness
The Pro-Bosques Activity improves private sector engagement in forest sector activities through increased efficiency in the use and transformation of forest resources, reducing deforestation rates and illegal logging. Private forest sector enterprises struggle to stay afloat with the decreased timber demand and outdated equipment for timber transformation. The Pro-Bosques Activity aims to increase their competitiveness through management best practices and access to new and improved markets. It also promotes legal timber trade through public purchase initiatives and legal access to forests for small land holders.
The Pro-Bosques Activity supports indigenous communities’ rights and resources through sustainable forest management. Indigenous communities face livelihood and land threats that challenge their rights and capacity to protect the nearly 18 percent of Peru’s Amazonian forests found in their lands. The Pro-Bosques Activity helps in the development and implementation of community Life Plans in its 12 participating communities through community forest management strategies and the enabling of their Community Control and Oversight network.
Working as a Team toward Self-Reliance
With this comprehensive strategy, the Pro-Bosques Activity works with Peruvian forest sector authorities to improve natural resources management on millions of hectares in Peru’s Amazon, sequestering and reducing greenhouse gas emissions considerably. The Pro-Bosques Activity not only focuses on economic advancement, but on a systemic perspective of what prosperous forests look like. Ultimately, the Pro-Bosques Activity aims to achieve the improvement of forest-based livelihoods by working alongside public sector authorities, forest private sector enterprises, and indigenous communities on their journey toward self-reliance.
About the Author
Paloma Vásquez is Tetra Tech’s lead for the Communications and Learning Unit at the USAID Pro-Bosques activity and is based in Lima, Peru. She has more than 10 years of experience as a sustainability and communications specialist, working in the private sector as well as not-for-profit organizations. Paloma holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication for Development from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru and a Master of Science in Environment and Development from the London School of Economics and Political Science.