Olive oropendola (Psarocolius bifasciatus) colony in tree at center Los Amigos Conservation Concession, Madre de Dios, Peru
The head of Peru’s National Forest and Wildlife Service has
revealed that deforestation by two illegal cocoa and oil palm plantations in
the Peruvian Amazon has caused US$111 million of damage.
Fabiola Muñoz told the investigative reporting outlet Ojo
Publico that a technical report had been submitted to the environmental
prosecutor, detailing the harm caused by Cacao Peru Norte in Loreto and
Plantations de Ucayali in Ucayali.
The National Forest and Wildlife Service (SERFOR), of which
Muñoz is executive director, falls under the Ministry of Agriculture and is the
highest authority in the management of forests in Peru.
Cacao Peru Norte is alleged
to have established its cocoa plantation in a Forest Production zone, which
cannot legally be used for agricultural purposes. Similar analysis has shown
that Plantations de Ucayali carried
out illegal deforestation in order to cultivate palm oil.
In 2015 the Environmental Investigation Agency published a
by Definition, which made the case that the Peruvian government was
allowing plantation companies to illegally destroy primary forest by employing
“a skewed interpretation of the legal definition of forests”.
Ojo Publico’s interview with Muñoz is translated and
reproduced below. The original Spanish version can be viewed here.
Fabiola Muñoz (FM): We have denounced this issue
together with the Ministry of Environment and the environmental
prosecutor. There have been great and sustained economic losses from
deforestation caused by palm companies in Tamshiyacu and Ucayali. Remember
that SERFOR was created in 2014, just when the rate of deforestation in the
country peaked. So to say that SERFOR is responsible for this is absolutely
illogical. At this time of year, 74,000 hectares have been deforested, having
had 177,000 and 172,000 in previous years.
OP: Some regional governments are allowing the entry of
oil palm plantations in forest areas.
FM: Fighting with the regions is not the
solution. We have to be capable so that these regions are able to identify
a sustainable forest management, agroforestry system and a productive forest.
Regarding oil palm our position is very clear, we do not have to continue
losing forests to promote agriculture and agricultural exports. We have
several deforested areas where these agro-industrial activities could be
OP: But does the Ministry of Agriculture (MINAGRI) have
an updated map that identifies precisely where these areas suitable for palm
FM: Yes, it does. The MINAGRI was working on the
issue since [the UNFCCC] COP and we have been working closely with the Ministry
of Environment on a national strategy on forests and climate
change. 500,000 deforested hectares have been identified, 200,000 of these
had studies of soil, and 58,783 have necessary conditions for oil palm.
OP: What actions have been taken to support research by
deforestation associated with palm oil?
FM: We sent the prosecutor our technical opinion on
forest damage caused by the companies Cacao Peru Norte and Plantations Ucayali
companies. In this document an economic valuation of the impacts caused
Ucayali and Loreto was made. The report concludes that the impact to the
forest heritage of Peru was 220 million Sol in Ucayali and 156 million Sol in
OP: Have you made a similar technical report on
complaints against deforestation Palmas Group, the Romero Group in Loreto?
I would be lying if I said yes. I haven’t seen it.