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The Indigenous Approach to National Forest Monitoring in Peru

Blog | Wed, 26 Feb, 2020 · 7 min read
Capacity building activities with communities from Satipo-Junín

In Peru, about 12.7 million hectares of Amazon rainforest lies in the territories of indigenous communities, territories that represent more than 19% of the country's forests. Peru’s indigenous communities play an essential role in the sustainable management of land and forests and, as such, in mitigating and adapting to climate change. By maintaining a close link with their forests, they remain the best allies of forest conservation and monitoring.

The unique role that local communities, smallholders and indigenous peoples play in addressing and responding to climate change is acknowledged in the international climate arena, including in the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Agenda. Various REDD+ financing mechanisms and initiatives, including the UN-REDD Programme, enhance the contribution of local communities and indigenous peoples through the REDD+ process: from consultative processes on national REDD+ strategies and participation in REDD+ implementation to monitoring results from specific REDD+ actions.

Community-based forest monitoring in Peru

A set of indigenous forest monitoring initiatives has been developed in the country to generate useful data and information for the management of their resources, and ultimately, to empower local and indigenous communities to monitor and measure their forests.

Laura Secada, the Director of the General Directorate for Climate Change and Desertification at the Ministry of Environment, says: “The UN-REDD Programme has been supporting the Peruvian government in integrating the indigenous approach to the national forest monitoring system through a complex set of activities. These involve indigenous communities, as well as local, regional and national indigenous organizations representing more than 2,500 indigenous communities. This work between the state and indigenous peoples contributes to the implementation of the National Strategy of Forests and Climate Change and to the fulfillment of our Nationally Determined Contributions.”

With an emphasis on strengthening partnerships at the local and regional level, FAO has signed Letters of Agreement with local and regional organizations that cover eight Amazon regions, elevating their capacities and helping them scale up their role in forest monitoring in indigenous territories.

Additionally, local and regional organizations have established forest monitoring units that, equipped with computers, drones and GPS, provide further technical support to the project’s communities, as well as other communities affiliated with the organizations. “The progress made to date with the project includes the establishment of four Community Monitoring and Surveillance Committees (CMVC), recognized by the forestry authority, that allow community members to formally monitor their own forests. Also, with the equipment they have, they will be able to better control illegal logging and other illegal activities in the URPIA partner communities. Consistent, specialized training in the communities also serves to improve forest monitoring,” says Cleofaz Quintori Soto, president of the Regional Union of Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon´s Province of Atalaya (URPIA).

At the community level, committees in charge of forest monitoring have been formed. These committees are recognized not only by the communities, but also by the National Forest and Wildlife Service (SERFOR). This allows them to ensure compliance with forest regulations. “Significant progress has been made with committee recognition by the National Forest Authority in Cusco, which has endowed them with the equipment and materials that facilitate forest monitoring within their territories. With special training, they are now fundamental actors in the surveillance and control of their forests. To date, 45 committees have been formed, 20 of which have received recognition from the authority,” says Agilio Marcelo Semperi Borja, head of the Machiguenga Council of the Urubamba River (COMARU).

Capacity building activities with communities from Urubamba- Cusco
Capacity building activities with communities from Urubamba- Cusco
© Sheila Sotero- Consejo Machiguenga del río Urubamba


Committee members carry out forest monitoring, based on internal planning and on alerts received from Geobosque, a platform for monitoring forest cover change in Peru. The data is already being reported to the National Forest Conservation Program for Climate Change Mitigation, but more work needs to be done in the future to integrate the collected data into the platform to ensure the sustainability of monitoring activities.