By Madre De Dios
The GCF is starting 2012 by welcoming its 16th member, Madre de Dios, whose petition for membership was officially approved at the 2011 GCF Annual Meeting in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia and is effective as of January 1, 2012.
The Peruvian region (a geopolitical territory similar to a state or province) of Madre de Dios is located in the southern part of Peru in the Amazon region and shares borders with Brazil and Bolivia. Madre de Dios has a total area of 85,184 km2 and an estimated population of 80,309 inhabitants, according to the last national census in 2007. Around 3% of the population is indigenous, made up of 8 different ethnic groups organized into 32 native communities. This figure does not account for other indigenous groups voluntarily isolated in the forests of Madre de Dios.
This region has the highest population growth rate in Peru, 4.8%, almost 2.5 times the average national growth rate, and this growth is not limited to urban areas. Rural areas have shown a permanent positive growth pattern, different than most other rural areas in Peru, whose population is decreasing in absolute terms. This is important because rural populations tend to have a greater impact on deforestation than urban populations have.
Madre de Dios is known as the “capital of biodiversity” in Peru because of its remarkable wild fauna and flora and its low deforested area (4.75%). For this reason, 54% of its area is under legal protection. This is a challenge because the forested areas are in very high demand, mainly by migrants displaced by the recently paved Interoceanic Highway that connects Brazil and Peru and gold miners due to the growing prices of gold, one of the main threats to forests of the region. In 2007, the number of migrants amounted to 44,985, which was 56% of the total population that year.
Historically, the main economic activities in the region have been Brazil nut harvesting, timber logging, and ecotourism, but agriculture, cattle ranching, and especially illegal gold mining have increased in recent years. Large scale operations such as palm oil plantations or cattle ranching have not been a common practice in Madre de Dios in the past but this may change in the near future with the new highway attracting foreign investors.
The Brazil nut is a non-timber forest product, the fruit of a hegemonic tree in the Southern Peruvian Amazon Rainforest that has been traded in international markets since the 1920’s, originally by Brazil. In Peru, Madre de Dios is the only region with Brazil nut forests (around 1 million hectares). The product is mainly exported (95%), generating about 15 million dollars per year for the Peruvian economy. Around 20,000 families depend, directly or indirectly, on this activity. For the families who manage a Brazil nut concession (around 1,100 concessionaries), the sale of the nut represents 67% of their annual income, even though it is a seasonal activity.
In 2009, timber production in Madre de Dios was 139,316 cubic meters of sawn wood and 290,450 cubic meters of round wood, which represents 17% of the national timber production. It is important to note that not all the timber comes from forest concessions. Around 23% comes from Brazil nut concessions or reforestation concessions. However, forest concessions produce the bulk at 77% of total regional supply, with an average productivity of 2.2 cubic meters per hectare per year. This is very low productivity which could easily multiply 4 times without affecting the sustainability of the forest resource. Some of the timber produced from Madre de Dios forests is exported and its value amounts to around 38 million dollars per year (in 2009).
The deforestation rate in Madre de Dios has increased from 12.461 hectares per year during the period of 1990-2000 to 22.621 hectares during 2000-2010, according to the National Institute of Natural Resources (INRENA) and the Research Institute of the Peruvian Amazon (IIAP). However, a technical conciliation process needs to be conducted as there are differences in the estimates of the deforestation rate. Other sources have found lower rates of deforestation.
Preventing Deforestation in Madre de Dios
Madre de Dios elected a new Regional President (similar to a Governor), José Luis Aguirre Pastor, in October 2010 whose term is from 2011-2014. The new Regional Government is fully committed to addressing the structural drivers of deforestation such as illegal mining and asked the national government to declare Madre de Dios in a state of Environmental Emergency. Approval of this request will allow the region to limit mining to specific pre-assigned concessions; avoid the establishment of new mining areas, (in suit with the National Government’s Initiative) and implement a permanent monitoring strategy and punishment for illegal miners, who will risk losing their machinery if caught.
An effort underway to promote REDD development in the region, The “Regional Roundtable for Environmental Services” (MSAR - acronyms in Spanish), was created in July, 2009 and formalized in September, 2010. MSAR is a branch of the national “REDD Roundtable” group, which is a discussion forum between civil society and governmental institutions. MSAR includes the participation of the Regional Government in Madre de Dios and public and private entities working on REDD initiatives. The group convenes weekly to discuss topics related to REDD such as legal, technical, and safeguard issues. The goal of the initiative is to strengthen local REDD capabilities and knowledge; organize debates and produce surveys and research; and contribute to the national REDD building process.
The Regional Government has officially recognized MSAR through a state law, revealing the level of importance the Regional Government gives the issue of deforestation and symbolizing the significance of the involvement of civil society in this effort. In addition, a Technical Cooperation Agreement has been signed between the Regional Government and civil society organizations aimed at developing a working group that will generate the regional baseline, projected scenarios for future deforestation and carbon stock maps. The results from this working group, projected to be complete at the end of 2012, will produce what will be considered the official scenario for REDD projects in Madre de Dios and will be submitted to the Environment Ministry for their consolidation into the national baseline for Peru. In a related effort, the Regional Government is in the process of establishing a comprehensive database for public usage that complies all the forest and carbon inventories carried out in the region, including the one developed by Carnegie Institute, High-resolution forest carbon stocks and emissions in the Amazon.
Madre de Dios also has also been addressing property rights issues on its agenda and is partly tackling it through the Regional Program for Forest and Wildlife Management (PRMFFS - its acronym in Spanish). PRMFFS is designing the terms of reference that will be used as guidelines for developing planning tools for the economic use of environmental services. The terms of reference are in line with the recently approved National Forestry Law that gives the right to trade and benefit from the sale of the carbon to the legal holder of the forest (concessionaries, titled landowner or state).
Several REDD initiatives are being developed in the region including, Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Tambopata National Reserve and in Bahuaja-Sonene National Park, Madre de Dios region - Peru (undergoing validation) and Madre de Dios Amazon REDD Project which was validated in 2009 - CCB Standards First Edition - Gold Level. Visit the CCB Standards website for more on the projects. The Regional Government is making efforts at preventing deforestation, but also acknowledges that many rely on the forests for their livelihood. The government is thus promoting sustainable economic activities such as Agroforestry Projects in the buffer zones. One example of this is promoting biodiversity though combining forestry and fruit trees with traditional crops in La Pampa Sector, the last barrier between the miners and Tambopata National Reserve (part of the famous biodiversity hotspot Vilcabamba-Amboró Conservation Corridor and home to many indigenous cultures). Similar to the national government, Madre de Dios is committed to promoting private investment as a source of income generation for urgent action to mitigate deforestation.