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Minutes of Open Session
CIFOR, August 9, 2004

Full English Report [177kb]


Peru by Mr. Abel Meza and Dr. Cesar Sabogal

Approximately 9.6 million hectares have been deforested or degraded in the Peruvian Amazon (2.5 million ha alone by coca cultivation). Still, over 70% of that area is under secondary regrowth. There is a direct link between the patterns of immigration and expansion of agricultural activities with forest degradation (40% of degraded land is located on protected areas). The government policy since the 1940s has been the promotion of direct colonization in the region, much of it spontaneous and on marginal areas (steep slopes, poor soils). Government incentives for agriculture and livestock production accelerated deforestation in the 1970s, when around 0.5 million ha were covered with agricultural crops. The next two decades saw several internationally-funded government “special” projects re-launching programs supporting agriculture and livestock production, and an increase in illegal crop cultivation and social violence. In the last decade or so a number of international cooperation programs have focused on land rehabilitation and alternatives for illegal crops. There are also pioneer rehabilitation initiatives involving forest companies, NGOs and local associations (e.g. outgrower schemes).

The new forestry law of 2000 identified general strategic guidelines to carry out activities to restore, manage and rehabilitate degraded forests and lands, but no specific policies have been defined yet to promote them. On the other hand, past and ongoing land rehabilitation initiatives are barely known and poorly documented. There is therefore a need to learn from these experiences and use them for guiding future projects and public policy formulation. This study focused on the most common land degradation scenarios identified in the Peruvian Amazon. From an initial inventory of 40 rehabilitation initiatives, 14 were selected` for further evaluation in the departments of Ucayali, San Martin, Cajamarca, Huanuco and Pasco.

According to the farmers and other land users, the main objectives of the rehabilitation initiatives were to restore soil properties and vegetation cover. Other objectives included creating environmental awareness and improving the quality of life. For project executers the overriding purpose was to restore forest cover. Agroforestry based on cash crops and reforestation with native tree species (mainly fast-growing timber species as well as multiple-use and soil-improvement species) were the main options promoted. Other technologies promoted included the management of residual and secondary forests, enrichment planting, tree hedgerows and bee keeping.

Among the main lessons learned from this study, the following can be highlighted:

  • Rehabilitation projects need to pay more attention to involving, working with and strengthening local organizations from project conceptualization to evaluation stages.
  • Need to design and implement strategies for technology transfer that stimulate active participation of the key actors, taking into account local knowledge and practices
  • Credibility, moral values and social engagement should be used as key criteria for selecting project staff, in addition to relevant technical knowledge and skills
  • Technologies to be promoted should match the reality and capacity of the producers
  • Production systems (e.g. agroforestry, tree plantations) that incorporate tree species with a shorter harvesting cycle and good market prospects tend to be more adoptable
  • Rehabilitation projects should give more attention to processing and commercialization of products to generate value-added
  • Incorporate the market variable in the design and promotion of rehabilitation technologies
  • Projects need to be designed with a much longer life-span and appropriate funding
  • Avoid overestimating the benefits a project could deliver to the individual or community
  • Any direct economic benefits aimed at beneficiaries could be gainfully used to stimulate key activities that contribute to the success of rehabilitation efforts
  • Rehabilitation projects should incorporate a system to monitor the initiatives over time

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Discussion:

  1. 1. The forestry sector is important in Peru, but in terms of direct revenues it contributes only to 1% of the GDP, i.e. excluding the value of the environmental services. The amount of forest cover, population pressures and the relative role of the forestry sector in different countries probably greatly influence the importance and nature of rehabilitation efforts and are good criteria for comparison across countries.

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