Peru National Ombudsman: Majority of companies illegally export lumber

A study by Peru’s Defensoría del Pueblo – the national ombudsman organization – has found 66 percent of timber companies in Peru are exporting lumber illegally.

The commissioner of the Defensoría’s Public Services and Environment department, Lucila Pautrat, told daily Gestión that 150 inspections carried out by the National Institute of Natural Resources, Inrena, between 2004 and 2007 found only 34 percent of companies were following lumber export regulations. The rest were ignoring controls and selling more lumber than authorized by the government.

Pautrat added that 86 percent of Peruvian mahogany, one of the World’s most valuable and appreciated timber species, has been illegally sold during the last seven years at a value of $273,432.

Inrena has reportedly implemented measures to prevent illegal lumber exports, however according to Pautrat the solution also requires a clear national policy. She proposed the creation of a Forestry Vice-Ministry as part of the future Environment Ministry to address the problem. “That is the only way to create conditions for better productivity and investment in the forestry sector.”

The National Supervisory of Customs office told the daily there are currently 472 companies exporting Peruvian lumber, with 38 percent of the exports bound for the United States, followed by 27 percent for Mexico and 20 percent for China.

With some 78 million hectares of forest, or about 192 million acres, Peru has the second largest forested area in South America and is one of the top ten forested countries in the World. However, almost 95 percent of the country’s forested area is found in its eastern jungle region, where illegal logging is a source of social conflict and widespread deforestation.

Illegal logging and marketing of lumber was addressed in the final text of the Peru – U.S. free trade agreement, which was signed into law in December. Peru is required to develop systems to track protected wood through each phase of the production chain.

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