It is widely acknowledged that the Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) sector plays a central role in food security and sustainable development in every country. At the same time, the sector is responsible for almost one-quarter of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The Paris Agreement requires individual countries to reduce emissions through climate action plans, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The fact that more than 85 percent of developing countries refer to AFOLU measures for climate change mitigation and adaptation in their NDCs  clearly reflects the importance of this sector in national efforts to tackle climate change.
Indeed, a number of NDCs include measures to reduce deforestation and forest degradation, which are to be implemented outside of the forestry sector. These include actions such as investing in sustainable, inclusive and productive agricultural development; agroforestry; rural finance;, and in managing natural resources more sustainably. The area of policy and legal reforms is one example where cross-sectoral collaboration is fundamental. For instance, in Peru, evidence suggests forests are more vulnerable to conversion than places where forests are not classified.
In Peru, land is zoned based on its Major Use Capacity (Capacidad de Uso Mayor de Tierras or CUM in Spanish). Under the Forest and Wildlife Law adopted in 2015, land use changes are prohibited in areas where its Major Use Capacity is forestry (e.x. protected forest lands). Regulations and procedures have been established to ensure these prohibitions.
A recent country analysis covering the period from 2000 - 2014 confirms that 50 percent of the deforestation in Peru occurs in forest areas where the tenure regimes are unclear ; in the case of Peru, this involves approximately 20 million hectares. However, despite the adoption of the Forest and Wildlife Law, there are still several challenges ahead for tenure provisions to be effectively implemented.
The Ministry of Environment (MINAM), Ministry of Agriculture (MINAGRI), the Forest Service (SERFOR) and Regional Governments (GORES) are joining efforts to overcome these challenges. Significant progress has been made, thanks to the latest collaboration between these organizations and FAO through the UN-REDD Programme. The collaboration supported the development of an in-depth analysis of land use legislation focusing on the administrative acts/permits authorizing land use changes from forest areas to other purposes such as mining, expansion of agricultural lands, and infrastructure. The analysis collects relevant data and information from the regions of Ucayali and Loreto. The interagency panel (MINAM, MINAGRI, SERFOR, FAO) has played an important role in ensuring the validation of the results of this analysis by key national counterparts.
Policies and laws on land tenure and land-use planning, and the capacity to implement and enforce these policies, are key factors that affect the relation between forests and agriculture. There is a need to better understand how different land tenure systems affect the successful implementation and effectiveness of REDD+ actions in the forest sector, and where trade-offs and synergies exist in order to find pragmatic cross-sectoral solutions in the territory under the appropriate legal framework.
The following are some takeaways of what we have learned from the analysis:
1. An effective solution to reducing inconsistencies in foresty zoning between the CUM established by the Ministry of Agriculture (MINAGRI) and the Forestry Zoning, which is defined by the Forestry Service (SERFOR), would be to create a unique cadastre linking land administration procedures for both institutions - the Ministry of Agriculture (MINAGRI) and the Forestry Service (SERFOR).
2. There is a need to complement the regulations of the Forest and Wildlife Law with additional guidelines and protocols in order to adequately authorize land use changes.
One of the main challenges is the gap between agrarian, forestry and environmental policies and legislation, and the practical work in the field of regional officials, where some have a distinctly "agrarian" vision. Therefore, improving vertical (within the levels of government) and horizontal (within sectors) coordination is crucial. Without it, the application of the rules will face serious challenges. In addition, it is fundamental that the regulations are integrated, updated, differentiated and simplified.
It is important to note that the analysis identified the harmonization of criteria used to define Major Capacity Use for both forest and agricultural lands is a major challenge. The combination of land tenure schemes, revised land use procedures in national forest areas and adequate incentives to combine protection and production have the potential to reduce land use conflicts and illegal deforestation.
Photo credit: ©FAO/Imanol Camblor
This analysis provides a starting point to initiate interventions at the ground level, in coordination with the regional government that will ultimately be in charge of implementation and enforcement of the law and its regulations. Any effort to enforce the law will be enhanced by centralized institutions in Lima and vertical central and the regional government coordination.
Success in reducing deforestation and forest degradation will depend not only on the granting of land rights and the implementation of regulations, but also on the formalization of rural land, assigning land uses and associated rights, avoiding ‘no man’s lands’ and promoting sustainable use.
The future of forest preservation in Peru will depend on forestry, agriculture and other land use sectors working together to reduce the gaps in economic development, agricultural production, deforestation and forest degradation. It will be important to clarify and ensure consistent interpretations of the law to avoid different interpretations. Overall, this will not only ensure better management of the country’s forestry sector, but also pave the way for climate change actions to which Peruvian forests can greatly contribute.
Francesca Felicani-Robles is a Forestry Officer in the Legal Forestry Department in FAO’s Subregional Office for Central America. She can be reached at: Francesca.FelicaniRobles@fao.org