Peruvian Indigenous Communities Are Officially Recognized as Forest Guardians

For the first time in the history of Peru, two indigenous communities have been officially accredited as Forest Monitors by the State. As a result of the cutting edge monitoring work carried out by the indigenous communities of Patria Nueva and Nueva Saposoa in Ucayali, the villages have completely eliminated deforestation caused by coca growers, logging and other illegal activities in their ancestral land. This achievement comes at a time, deforestation has increased in the region. 

In fact, from 2013 to 2015, the community territories had an annual deforestation rate of nearly five per cent, making it very likely that by the time the children of the community reached adulthood their forest would have completely vanished. Fearing this future, the community banded together and with the help of the Rainforest Foundation implemented a community monitoring program.

If Not Us Then Who's documentary follows the work of these these forest monitors  to save their forest from illicit coca growers, land trafficking and illegal logging.

The communities' accreditation comes shortly after the communities were able to extend their land title to more accurately reflect their historical use of their ancestral lands. This extension was a nine year struggle, as the state repeatedly ignored or refused their requests. With the newly granted extension their lands abut the 1.4 million hectare Sierra Divisor National Park, making their forests a much needed buffer zone to protect the park from deforestation.  Once one of the most threatened areas near the Sierra Divisor National Park, Nuevo Saposoa and Patria Nueva have become models for other communities and one more example that when indigenous communities are given control of their lands, their forests thrive. 

This graph shows how deforestation in Patria Nueva and Nuevo Saposoa plummeted once indigenous communities began strategically monitoring their forests, by reporting incursions (March 16), engaging in land planning (July 16, and relocating those who had illegal cleared and farmed their land (August 16th) they have eliminated deforestation on their lands.  

The forest defenders in the two communities have implemented an innovative forest monitoring system that incorporates traditional foot patrols and the latest technology-including GPS, smart phone applications, satellite-generated deforestation alerts and drones. These tools have have allowed the community monitors to locate and identify and confront land traffickers, illegal loggers, and increasingly, the illicit cultivation of coca and processing as well as other drug trafficking activities in their ancestral territory.

Ucayali Forest Service's accreditation authorizes the communities to enforce Peru's forest law, and gives them a direct relationship with relevant government enforcement authorities.

How it Works:

1. We Introduce technology and train the monitors in its use.

2. Rainforest Foundation and MINAM- the Peruvian Ministry of the Environment teach mapping techniques. 

3.  Monitors go on group patrols of the area.

4. Monitors verify deforestation alerts.

5. Monitors report on and when they deem appropriate, mediate any environmental crimes

6. The community builds guard-posts to help them monitor illegal incursions on to their land (if needed). 

7. Rainforest Foundation helps the community create land management plans. 

8. Illegal roads and bridges are destroyed thereby reducing illegal incursions into the forest.

 Peru has declared its commitment to net zero deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon. 

Recognizing communities land rights, and giving them the authority to protect their forests puts Peru one step closer to achieving these goals.