Combatting Illegal Logging in Peru

Rainforest in Loreto region of Peru. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

In Peru, the USDA Forest Service is currently collaborating with the Government and counterparts to enhance forest sector governance and promote legal trade in timber products.The work is vital in helping the country to comply with the obligations detailed in the Environment Chapter and Annex on Forest Sector Governance  (the Annex) of the US-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement.The Annex could help to level the playing field in international trade for timber producers across the globe. 

About 15 percent of the worldwide trade of forest products is from illegally harvested wood. This results in artificially-low prices for the illegal harvests, upsetting the balance in world markets. Efforts related to the Annex will help to ensure the legality of wood products exported to the United States and other countries, and build technical capacity for sustainable forest management. As in other countries, a more level playing field in timber and timber products worldwide could benefit private industry in the United States.

To that end, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funded the Forest Service in 2009 to develop the Peru Forest Sector Initiative. The work addresses several critical issues highlighted in the Annex including: development of an information and control system for forest and wildlife resources; chain of custody for Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)-listed species; environmental law enforcement and prosecution and several others. 

Recent work includes a spring 2012 visit by a team of inventory specialists from national and regional agencies in Peru to the Southern Research Station Forest Inventory and Analysis unit in Knoxville, TN, to work with Forest Service researchers and inventory experts. The aim was to analyze data generated by their new forest inventory model for concessions. The model was successfully piloted in one region of Perus Amazon, Loreto, in late 2011 and will be replicated in another region later this summer.  In addition, based on exposure to the Forest Service systems, the Peruvians initiated design of their own country-wide process for data collection, analysis, and reporting to stakeholders.

Another important development of the Peru Forest Sector Initiative is a new, automated timber and wildlife tracking system being developed in Peru. When it is fully implemented in 2014, the system will verify legal origin and allow compliance with chain of custody standards of CITES.  Further, it will improve transparency, data sharing and fraud detection—critical for Perus procurement process for timber tracking and control software. 

The Peru Forest Sector Initiative is scheduled to continue through 2015.  

Reprinted with permission from the June issue of Whats New, the newsletter of Forest Service International Programs.

Read more about the Knoxville visit in the next post to CompassLive.

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