As one of the world’s most biodiverse countries, Peru has an abundance of natural resources that have represented natural wealth throughout the nation’s history. However, this richness is not often fully understood and has been unsustainably managed as a result. Over the past decade, an increasing turn toward a green economy has helped shift the way that Peru’s natural resources are viewed. This new perspective additionally considers the key role of natural capital and resources in environmental, social and cultural well-being. This integrated approach to forest resource management is at the core of USAID’s Securing a Sustainable, Profitable, and Inclusive Forest Sector in Peru Pro-Bosques) Activity.
With over 70 million hectares of forests—nearly twice the size of Germany—Peru has the second largest Amazonian forest coverage after Brazil. This extensive territory represents one of the country’s largest pillars of natural resources. It provides a vast array of ecosystem services, such as local and global climate regulation, protection of watersheds, and provision of timber and non-timber forest products (e.g., fruit, fish), contributing significantly to the local economy.
Unfortunately, deforestation in Peru’s Amazonian forests is gravely affecting those ecosystems. In 2018, deforestation loss in the Peruvian Amazon averaged 155 thousand hectares—roughly the size of Mexico City—marking an increase from the number of hectares lost yearly since 2001. This is the context in which Pro-Bosques is being implemented, as part of the Amazonia Verde Project’s Forestry Program, to provide the pillars for sustainability, legality, inclusivity, and profitability to support and modernize Peru’s forest sector.
USAID Pro-Bosques is working towards this goal through a comprehensive strategy which includes:
Forest Governance and Sustainability
Pro-Bosques strengthens monitoring and law enforcement in the forest sector to increase legal timber for international and domestic use.
- Illegal logging is one of the main causes for forest degradation and negatively affects economic development and forest sector perception. Pro-Bosques works alongside public sector forest authorities to implement an integrated and comprehensive information system that will enable verification of the legal origin of timber, from its forest source to markets.
Forest Sector Competitiveness
Pro-Bosques improves private sector engagement in forest sector activities through increased efficiency in the use and transformation of forest resources, reducing deforestation rates and illegal logging.
- Private forest sector enterprises struggle to stay afloat with timber demand decreasing and outdated equipment for timber transformation. Pro-Bosques aims to increase their competitiveness through management best practices and access to new and improved markets, and promotes legal timber trade through public purchase initiatives and legal access to forests for small land holders.
Pro-Bosques supports indigenous communities’ rights and resources through sustainable forest management.
- Indigenous communities face livelihood and land threats that challenge their rights and capacity to protect the nearly 18% of Peru’s Amazonian forests found in their lands. Pro-Bosques helps in the development and implementation of community Life Plans in its 12 participating communities through community forest management strategies and the enabling of their Community Control and Oversight network.
With this comprehensive strategy, Pro-Bosques works with Peruvian forest sector authorities to improve natural resources management on millions of hectares in Peru’s Amazon, sequestering and reducing greenhouse gas emissions considerably. The Activity not only focuses on economic advancement, but on a systemic perspective of what prosperous forests look like. Ultimately, Pro-Bosques aims to achieve the improvement of forest-based livelihoods by working alongside public sector authorities, forest private sector enterprises, and indigenous communities on their journey toward self-reliance.
Paloma Vásquez leads the Communications and Learning Unit at the USAID Pro-Bosques activity and is based in Lima, Peru. She has over 10 years of experience as a sustainability and communications specialist, working in the private sector as well as not-for-profit organizations. Paloma holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication for Development from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru and a Master of Science degree in Environment and Development from the London School of Economics and Political Science.