Amazon natives launch innovative forest conservation program

Native leaders and communities in Peru’s central Amazon region have launched an innovative forest conservation program, designed to halt deforestation and illegal logging in its tracks.

According to the plan, 360,000 hectares of forest belonging to Capirosia, Otica, Chinarenso and Puerto Ocopa communities will be divided into lots. To ensure sustainability, reforestation and the selective logging of only mature trees, lots will alternatively be logged only once every 20 years.

“Loggers pay natives communities close to nothing to cut down their forests, and do so indiscriminately, chopping down whatever comes across their path,” said Mario Jeri Kuriyama, a representative of the Central Jungle’s Peace and Development Association.

We no longer have any mahogany or cedar trees on our lands because of indiscriminate logging, added José Rios Suarez, Chief of the Ashánika reserve.

According to, most logging in Peru is illegal, and one scientist at the Research Institute of the Peruvian Amazon estimates that 95 percent of the mahogany logged in the country is harvested illegally. Because the wood is so valuable, traffickers are known to cut trees inside national parks and reserves. They also have little to fear: as of early 2006, not a single commercial logger had been imprisoned in Peru for illegal logging.

In Peru, where more than 80 percent of forests are classified as primary forests, deforestation and degradation are increasingly the result of development activities, especially logging, commercial agriculture, gold mining, gas and oil operations, and road construction.

According to the journal Science, deforestation rates surged in 2005, but sustainability and reforestation initiatives managed by natives communities have been effective in the prevention of deforestation.

“Overall, only 2 percent of the forest disturbances and 1 percent the deforestation detected in the entire study area occurred within the boundaries of natural protected areas. Furthermore, territories occupied by indigenous communities contained 11 percent and 9 percent of the total forest disturbance and deforestation, respectively,” reported a team led by Stanford University scientists. “These results clearly show that these two forms of land-use allocation can provide effective protection against forest damage.”

Peru Forest Figures by

Forest Cover
Total forest area: 68,742,000 ha
% of land area: 53.7%

Primary forest cover: 61,065,000 ha
% of land area: 47.7%
% total forest area: 88.8%

Deforestation Rates, 2000-2005
Annual change in forest cover: -94,200 ha
Annual deforestation rate: -0.1%
Change in defor. rate since ’90s: 1.3%
Total forest loss since 1990: -1,414,000 ha
Total forest loss since 1990:-2.0%

Primary or “Old-growth” forests
Annual loss of primary forests: -224600 ha
Annual deforestation rate: -0.4%
Change in deforestation rate since ’90s: 214.7%
Primary forest loss since 1990: -1,123,000 ha
Primary forest loss since 1990:-2.9%

Forest Classification
Public: 83.1%
Private: 15.2%
Other: 1.7%
Production: 36.7%
Protection: 0.5%
Conservation: 26.9%
Social services: n.s.%
Multiple purpose: 26%
None or unknown: 9.9

Forest Area Breakdown
Total area: 68,742,000 ha
Primary: 61,065,000 ha
Modified natural: 6,923,000 ha
Semi-natural: n/a
Production plantation: 754,000 ha
Production plantation: n/a

Number of tree species in IUCN red list
Number of native tree species: 2,500
Critically endangered: 33
Endangered: 14
Vulnerable: 54

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