Deforestation and Forest Degradation in the Peruvian Amazon – a Multi-Level Governance Issue

This project is part of the Country Working Grup (LAG) of the Postgraduate Training Programme. Against the backdrop of progressive deforestation in Peru, the LAG worked on possible approaches for the realisation of the government’s strategy of achieving ‘zero deforestation’ until 2019. For this purpose the LAG addressed following objectives: mapping deforestation in Peru as a multi-level governance problem, examining positional differences at different levels among public and non-state agents and devising recommendations for a more effective transition to sustainable forest management.

Project Lead:

Fariborz Zelli

Project Team:
Christian von Haldenwang

Participants of the 46th Postgraduate Training Course:
Daniela Erler
Sina Frank
Jonas Hein
Hannes Hotz
Anna-Maria Santa Cruz Melgarejo

Time frame:
2011 - 2011 / completed

Project description

With around 70 million hectares of tropical forest covering nearly 60% of its territory, Peru has the fourth largest area of tropical forest in the world (after Brazil, Democratic Republic of Congo and Indonesia). More than 80% is classified as primary forest, rich in both biological diversity and natural resources. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that the country loses at least 224,000 hectares of forest per year, causing about half of Peru’s greenhouse gas emissions. A chief reason for Amazonian deforestation and forest degradation is the migration of farmers from the highlands who continue their traditional patterns of subsistence agriculture. Further causes are increases in (largely illegal) logging, commercial agriculture, mining, gas and oil operations and road construction.
With a new and ambitious ten-year strategy, the Peruvian government strives for zero deforestation until 2019. For this purpose, the country is looking for $20m of annual support from the international community – as part of the REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) mechanism currently discussed in global climate negotiations. In addition, Peru seeks to intensify its cooperation with other countries in the region.

This also raises questions about the role of German development assistance, the potential scale, addressees and mechanisms of REDD-based support, and relevant allocation criteria. Recent efforts notwithstanding, current political approaches do not suffice to achieve the transition towards comprehensive sustainable forest management. For instance, Peru’s land-tenure law needs to be reformed to eliminate adverse incentives for deforestation; law enforcement against illegal logging has to be improved; rigid environmental impact assessments need to be established and implemented before granting mining and energy concessions, while participation of local indigenous groups has to be enhanced, etc.

Given the growing role of deforestation as a subject matter of both international and domestic politics, the country working group seeked to provide an analysis of the political discourse on deforestation in Peru, addressing the following objectives:

  • mapping deforestation in Peru as a multi-level governance problem: at the international level (representation of Peruvian interests in climate negotiations, cooperation in the Amazon region) and at the national and sub-national levels (new strategy to combat deforestation; coordination among national government, departamentos and provinces);
  • in particular: examining positional differences at national and sub-national levels among public and non-state agents and their respective influence on the policy process;
  • devising recommendations, based on exchanges with decision-makers and interest groups, for a fairer and more effective transition to sustainable forest management.

Reflecting these objectives, research questions guiding the analysis were a) Who are major Peruvian agents involved in the political discourse on deforestation, b) What are the positions of these agents? What are long-term cleavages (i.e. beyond short-term election-based orientations we will witness in 2010 and 2011)? c) What are major factors shaping these positions? And d) Which agents are dominating and shaping the discourses at different levels and why? What are barriers and catalysts to the influence of various actor groups?
Policy recommendations related to the following issues: a) Based on the analysis / mapping of interests, which assumptions can be made regarding future policy processes on deforestation at these various levels? b) What are the potential pros and cons of these assumed developments (in light of different social, economic and environmental criteria)? To what extent are these developments long-ranging and welfare-oriented? c) Which policy recommendations can be generated to tackle some of the identified negative implications?