Brazil nut forest concessions in the Peruvian Amazon: success or failure?

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In Peru, concessions for harvesting Brazil nuts (fruits of the Amazon tree Bertholletia excelsa) were launched in the Madre de Dios Department in 2000. This study analyses the extent to which the Brazil nut concession system (which covers about 1 million ha of closed canopy forest) has met its objective of providing a governance model for sustainable and equitable use. Primary and secondary information sources were used to analyse governance outcomes based on 10 indicators, and the performance of Brazil nut concessions in two contrasting land-use types in Madre de Dios were compared (within and outside protected areas). It was found that corresponding institutional arrangements have led, more than a decade later, to different socioeconomic, ecological and legal outcomes. Particularly outside protected areas, where the vast majority of the concessions are located, a paradoxical situation was found of ineffective over-regulation on paper but minimal intervention from state agencies; ineffective state monitoring and sanctions; poor law enforcement with excessive punitive measures; power imbalances in the value chain and illegal timber harvesting; the lack of a multiple forest-use framework; and overlapping, conflictual customary and regulatory governance. This paper argues that at present, the long-term sustainability of the Brazil nut concession system seems compromised. If the Brazil nut concession system is to enter into a new decade, this may only be possible by formally recognizing the multiplicity of land uses, implementing and validating sound silvicultural approaches, minimizing land use and management trade-offs in alignment with local aspirations, and establishing effective negotiation platforms with different productive sectors and government agencies.

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