Rising deforestation for agriculture in Peru indigenous reserve

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

Satellite analysis has identified “rapidly increasing” deforestation due to agriculture and cattle ranching in protected indigenous forests in Peru.

The El Sira Communal Reserve was established in 2001, to conserve biodiversity for the benefit of the indigenous Ashaninka, Asheninka, Yanesha and Shipibo-Conibo groups native to the area.

An “initial threat assessment” published this month found rising levels of deforestation driven by agriculture in the northern portion of the Reserve. It estimated that 1,600 hectares of forest has been destroyed since 2013, mostly in small-scale plots.


Examples of deforestation between September 2015 (left panel) and August/September 2016 (right panel). The red circles indicate newly deforested areas in 2016. The yellow circles indicate areas deforested in 2015 and subsequently converted to cattle pasture in 2016.

The analysis was carried out by the Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP), which analyses and distributes satellite data to improve understanding of patterns, hotspots and drivers of deforestation.

The Reserve lies in the central Peruvian Amazon, between the Ucayali and Pachitea rivers. It encompasses a range of different landscapes, from lowland tropical rainforests to the Cordillera El Sira mountain range.

Communal Reserves were established in Peru as a category of protected area with the primary objective of securing the rights and resources of indigenous peoples. They have been regarded as an “innovative tool” for management of vulnerable areas, but face the unresolved issue of “a fundamental difference between conservation and indigenous perspectives of the purpose of communal reserves”.[1]

The case has been made that the model is preventing indigenous groups from fully asserting their rights.[2]

Click here to view MAAP’s analysis in full.

[1] https://www.culturalsurvival.org/publications/cultural-survival-quarterly/peru/benefiting-local-populations-communal-reserves-peru

[2] http://www.rainforestfoundationuk.org/what-we-do/projects/communal-reserves