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  • Study reveals government views on collective titling in Peru

Study reveals government views on collective titling in Peru

A CIFOR consultant discusses community frontiers in Campemento Neshuya, Ucayali River, Peru. Photo by M. del Aguila Guerrero/CIFOR
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To legally obtain title to their community lands, indigenous people in the Peruvian Amazon must navigate a maze of legal paperwork and technical steps that can take as long as a decade to complete.

Research by the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) found that the process is challenging not only for villagers, but also for government officials.

Lack of coordination among the many government agencies involved, conflicts over rights and boundaries, and the high cost of conducting technical studies, such as mapping community boundaries, were among the difficulties reported.

Underlying those obstacles are differences in the way indigenous people and government agencies understand territorial rights, said Iliana Monterroso, a CIFOR scientist, who led the research.

“Differing expectations, tight budgets and difficulties in coordination among government agencies are the main obstacles mentioned by those interviewed,” she said of the study, which surveyed 32 national and regional government officials.

The researchers examined two ongoing tenure reform processes in Peru targeting native communities. One involves changes in laws that recognize land rights, while the other involves rights to forests, including promoting access to forest resources and support for forest management.

“While the government perceived them as two different sets of regulations, with different institutions responsible for implementation, indigenous communities saw them as a group of measures that should ensure protection of their territorial rights,” said Monterroso.

The study also underscored differences between the way national and sub-national government officials view tenure reform. While those working for the national government see reforms as a way to formalize land rights, regional officers see them as a way to increase access and use of resources to support livelihoods for native communities.

“Besides incongruences in how regulations are perceived, these results also point to a need for greater coordination and communication between the different levels of government,” Monterroso said.

Read also: Reclaiming collective rights: land and forest tenure reforms in Peru (1960-2016)

Community members stand in front of a river in Cashiboya, Loreto Province, Peru. Photo by M. del Aguila Guerrero/CIFOR

Shared responsibility, different expectations

Granting legal land titles was initially implemented by Peru’s central government. With the dawn of decentralization in the early 2000s, Lima handed regional governments responsibility – under national guidelines and  provision – for boundary demarcation, titling communal lands, and the granting of usufruct rights to forests.

Peruvian law considers all forest lands as public; indigenous communities bid therefore for titles on communal lands classed as agriculture and usufruct contracts for those as forests.

The process involves more than 20 steps and at least a dozen government agencies, both national and regional.

Overall, 60 percent of the government officials involved in implementing tenure reform, including recognition of rights to both land and forests, work at the sub-national level, Monterroso said.

Those officials generally have a significant level of education and experience. 90 percent of those surveyed had a university education, as well as averaging 10 years of work experience.

But working with indigenous communities poses particular challenges for government officials – nearly two-thirds mentioned indigenous communities or cultural norms as a stumbling block when implementing tenure reforms.

“They have the skills necessary for the administrative work, but can lack the cultural understanding needed when titling native communities,” Monterroso said. “Working in an intercultural environment requires the ability to recognize the needs of indigenous communities and how best to go about helping to resolve conflicts.”

Conflicts are not uncommon. When officials were asked about the main obstacles they encountered in the titling process, boundary disputes were mentioned most often, followed by illegal logging, overlapping permits for use of resources, and inefficient management of finances.

Around 40 percent then went on to say that their work involved educating communities about their rights, and the channels available to them to file complaints, but only six percent said they are directly involved in helping to resolve conflicts.

Previous research has shown that while Peru has a high level of conflict over land rights, a relatively small percentage of government officials report that is part of their responsibilities; this is a clear weakness in Peru’s legal system for titling.

Read also: Gender and formalization of native communities in the Peruvian Amazon

A dirt road leads to a community in Tingo de Ponasa, San Martin, Peru. Photo by M. del Aguila Guerrero/CIFOR

Budgets and coordination are key

More than one-third of the government officials surveyed mentioned inadequate budgets as a significant obstacle to implementation of tenure reform.

Although titling is free for communities, the process is expensive for subnational governments because of the cost of transporting teams to remote areas. As a matter devolved, they therefore have to allocate from their budget assigned from the national Ministry of Economy and Finance, or use contributions from international cooperation agencies.

Costs could range as high as USD 10,000 or more for a single title, depending on the location, the amount of work required, and how long the process takes. Titling takes an average of eight years, although some communities have been waiting for their title for several decades.

“Limitations affecting implementation are mainly associated with inadequate budgets, inefficient communication among the various government agencies involved, and cumbersome procedures,” said Monterroso. “Despite this, overall the respondents had a positive view of how well tenure reform was being implemented.”

The study points to several ways in which the process could be made more effective, she said.

Officials responsible for implementing tenure reform should be prepared to work with indigenous communities and be sensitive to the views of women and young people.

Indigenous communities and government officials often have different understandings of land tenure, so they also must address diverse and sometimes contradictory views about forest and land management and conservation, said Monterroso.

Because the process involves allocating budgets and responsibilities among a minimum of 12 government agencies, it is not surprising officials were in agreement that inter-agency collaboration and coordination are key to making reforms successful.

That’s why Monterroso is calling for additional measures to facilitate better access and exchange of information to not only increase coordination among national and regional government agencies, but to “have a cost-effective way to advance tenure reform implementation.”

She added, “most importantly everyone involved must keep in mind that the role of the state is not simply to grant the community a land title, but to ensure that the resources in the territory can provide the inhabitants with a sustainable livelihood.

“Titling is just the first step.”

By Barbara Fraser, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News.


This study is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), and is supported by the European Commission, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the Global Environment Facility, and the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets.

FTA is the world’s largest research for development program to enhance the role of forests, trees and agroforestry in sustainable development and food security and to address climate change. CIFOR leads FTA in partnership with Bioversity International, CATIE, CIRAD, ICRAF, INBAR and TBI. FTA’s work is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.

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  • Large genetic diversity for fine-flavor traits unveiled in cacao (Theobroma cacao L.) with special attention to the native Chuncho variety in Cusco, Peru

Large genetic diversity for fine-flavor traits unveiled in cacao (Theobroma cacao L.) with special attention to the native Chuncho variety in Cusco, Peru

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The fine-flavor cocoa industry explores mainly six chocolate sensory traits from four traditional cocoa (Theobroma cacao L.) varieties. The importance of cocoa pulp flavors and aromas has been ignored until we recently showed that they migrate into beans and into chocolates. Pulp sensory traits are strongly genotype dependent and correlated to human preference. Growers of the native Chuncho variety from Cusco, Peru, which is the cocoa that the Incas consumed, make pulp juices from preferred trees (genotypes). Evaluations of 226 preferred trees evidenced presence of 64 unique mostly multi-trait sensory profiles. Twenty nine of the 40 flavors and aromas identified mimic those of known fruit and flower or spice species such as mandarin, soursop, custard apple, cranberry, peach, banana, inga, mango, nut, mint, cinnamon, jasmine, rose and lily. Such large sensory diversity and mimicry is unknown in other commercial fleshy fruit species. So far, 14 Chuncho-like pulp sensory traits have been identified among different cocoa varieties elsewhere suggesting that Chuncho is part of the ¿centre of origin¿ for cocoa flavors and aromas. Stable expression of multi-trait Chuncho sensory profiles suggest pleiotropic dominant inheritance, favoring selection for quality traits, which is contrasting with the complex sensory trait determination in other fleshy fruit species. It is inferred that the large sensory diversity of Chuncho cocoa can only be explained by highly specialized sensory trait selection pressure exerted by frugivores, during evolution, and by the indigenous ¿Matsigenkas¿, during domestication. Chuncho beans, still largely employed as a bulk cocoa source, deserve to become fully processed as an extra-fine cocoa variety. The valorization of the numerous T. cacao sensory profiles in chocolates, raw beans and juices should substantially diversify and boost the fineflavor cocoa industry, this time based on the Matsigenka/Inca and not anymore on the Maya cocoa traditions.

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  • Why peatlands, and why now?

Why peatlands, and why now?

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Peatlands are increasingly playing a bigger role in forest conservation thanks to their extraordinary proficiency at carbon sequestration.

In November the Center for International Forestry Research’s (CIFOR) Forests News reported that the ‘bogs’ had finally been given the spotlight. The newly established International Tropical Peatlands Center (ITPC) is set to open its doors in 2019, to bring ‘researchers, governments, civil society and other stakeholders together to ensure the conservation and sustainable management of peatlands throughout Southeast Asia, the Congo Basin and Peru’.

Here, three scientists from CIFOR – a coordinating partner of the ITPC and longtime peatlands analysist – explain ‘why peatlands, and why now.’

Answers have been written in sic, though minor amendments have been made for easy reading.

Why are peatlands important for biofuel and bioenergy?

Himlal Baral: Peatlands provide a wide range of ecosystem goods and services- for example, climate regulation and water cycling. And they are a great source of biodiversity, as well as ecosystem goods- such as timber and nontimber products, including bioenergy. The biomass produced peatlands can be converted into sustainable energy production. That’s why it’s getting attention as bioenergy.

What are you working on right now?

HB: We are doing quite a few and different projects- but one of the projects is about bioenergy production potential in a variety of landscapes, including peatlands. We are looking at how peatlands can be utilized for sustainable biomass production without damaging their nature and characteristics. The technique is called paludiculture. It involves growing trees or growing things on wetlands conditions, it is an excellent example to utilize peatlands. We are currently developing, testing a wide variety of tree species that can produce bioenergy from peatlands.

Why is the study of peatlands important?

HB: Peatlands are extremely important to ecosystems. They are home to endangered species, rare species, such as orangutans. They are great sequesters of carbon and they provide livelihood opportunities for millions of people living on and around peatlands. So, they are not only for people, but also for nature.

Can you tell us what you’re working on right now?

Dede Rohadi: In leading this project I work with local partners, and our main focus is to understand how the community is using and managing the peatlands. We are trying to identify what other options there are in developing livelihoods other than oil palm, because the problem is it seems that everybody goes into the oil palm business, and we understand there are a lot of negative impacts to the environment because of this expansion. So, we’re trying to develop what are the other options that are more in line with peatland conservation strategies.

What is the relationship between humans and peatlands?

DR: I think it is interesting to understand the behavior of people, especially the farmers who are living around the area. For example, we can understand why the people are interested in expanding the oil palm plantations. Previously they used the peatland for growing paddy, silviculture, lots of fruits on their lands- but it seems because of the market, they turn to oil palm plantations.

Also, some people are selling their lands to other people for oil palm expansion. There is a lot of industry there and the market is good, so people are dragged in because they feel comfortable with oil palm as they have secure income from it. But actually, there are a lot of other commodities that may be prospective for them to develop. But, there are some questions. For example, we need to provide the market channel and also we need to provide them with the knowledge and the skills on how to use or develop these alternative products. That’s what my project is doing.

What are some alternatives?

DR: For example, we can develop on farm-based and off-farm-based options. On farm-based, for example, some commodities such as pineapple. Pineapples grow well in the peatlands and the peatlands don’t need to be drained. In fact some of the people also now plant them, and they have a good market. But, the question is if more people grow this pineapple what will be the market? If the market is saturated then that is an important question for us to develop. And coconut, for example. In one village coconut has been planted by people and up until now they’re still planting coconuts and it has been the main source of their livelihoods. And betel nuts too.

We can also develop off-farm activities such as honeybees, because the people in the area are still collecting wild honey. It’s a good product, and the market is there, but they need to improve the market channel. They need to improve, for example, the quality of the honey and how to also not only collect the honey but also cultivate the honey in the home garden. Because there are different honeys- we can provide them with the knowledge.

Another product is fish, for example. A lot of people are living around the river, which has a high potential for fish industry. Up until now it has not been used optimally- so we can provide the technology for example, on how to process fish into fish products, and add value to their products.

Why did you get into forestry?

Herry Purnomo: I got into forestry first, because I love nature and lots of things related to nature I would like to contribute to. Secondly, forests and forestry matter to our lives, to the sustainability of this planet. Forests can contribute to the economy of this country [Indonesia]. For example, timber production, as well as ecosystem services such as ecotourism, as well as providing lots of benefits to people and local communities.

Can you tell us about your peatlands work?

HP: Now I’m working on a community-based fire prevention and peatland restoration in Riau province in Indonesia. We call this ‘participatory action research’. We try to work with the local community to understand the behavior of peatlands, to reduce the fire evidence, as well as to restore the degraded land.

So the community is not only the object of our work, but also the subject of restoring peatlands. It’s a 15-month project and very interesting actually to understand the peatlands, as well as transforming the local livelihood into more peatland-friendly. We use the theory of change for the current situation – in which people are likely to use fire fir agriculture and peatland, to reduce the fire as well as improve the livelihood of the people there. We’re funded by Temasak and the Singapore Cooperation Enterprise from Singapore.

Why is the study of peatlands important?

HP: Firstly, the fire in 2015- let’s call it a disaster because it produced a lot of toxic haze and people in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore in particular suffered from the burning of the peatlands and forests.

So now we try to do research and science enquiry to provide more sustainable livelihoods by not only investigating, but by providing evidence and an action arena that communities as well as government can do – peatland management without fire. It’s not easy because using fire is common for local communities, but we provide evidence that a community can get benefits by not using fire, but more sustainable agriculture. We believe that good peatland management will happen in Riau in this way.

By Christi Hang, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News.


This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), which is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.

This research was supported by Temasak and the Singapore Cooperation Enterprise.

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  • Rethinking Fuelwood: People, Policy and the Anatomy of a Charcoal Supply Chain in a Decentralizing Peru

Rethinking Fuelwood: People, Policy and the Anatomy of a Charcoal Supply Chain in a Decentralizing Peru

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In Peru, as in many developing countries, charcoal is an important source of fuel. We examine the commercial charcoal commodity chain from its production in Ucayali, in the Peruvian Amazon, to its sale in the national market. Using a mixed-methods approach, we look at the actors involved in the commodity chain and their relationships, including the distribution of benefits along the chain. We outline the obstacles and opportunities for a more equitable charcoal supply chain within a multi-level governance context. The results show that charcoal provides an important livelihood for most of the actors along the supply chain, including rural poor and women. We find that the decentralisation process in Peru has implications for the formalisation of charcoal supply chains, a traditionally informal, particularly related to multi-level institutional obstacles to equitable commerce. This results in inequity in the supply chain, which persecutes the poorest participants and supports the most powerful actors.

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  • Migration, property rights and livelihoods on Peruvian forest frontiers

Migration, property rights and livelihoods on Peruvian forest frontiers

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  • Nature-based vs. technological approaches to adaptation to climate change in the Peruvian Andes

Nature-based vs. technological approaches to adaptation to climate change in the Peruvian Andes

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  • Fire- and distance-dependent recruitment of the Brazil nut in the Peruvian Amazon

Fire- and distance-dependent recruitment of the Brazil nut in the Peruvian Amazon

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The low natural regeneration of the Brazil nut (Bertholletia excelsa) in the Madre de Dios region of Peru is a major concern for the conservation and sustainable use of this species which sustains one of the cornerstone non-timber forest product economies in Amazonia. The Brazil nut is a gap-dependent, long-lived pioneer species that has been shown to regenerate more effectively in fallows than in mature forests. Aside from light and nutrient availability, recruitment success of the species might also be influenced by conspecific negative distance-dependent (CNDD) processes as shown for a myriad of other tropical tree species, but to date has not been studied in the Brazil nut. We measured Brazil nut recruitment in forty 150×10 square meter transects (totaling 60 ha), proportionally laid out in mature forest and fallow land. We found a higher likelihood of regeneration in fallows than in mature forest, which was mainly due to more successful transitioning from seedlings to saplings in fallows. Recruitment rates in fallows increased with the number of fire events occurring over the past 12 years, largely owing to the accumulation of resprouting individuals, but this positive correlation was only observed up to three fire events. We observed CNDD recruitment of the Brazil nut in fallows but not in mature forest, suggesting that pests and diseases might also condition Brazil nut recruitment. Our findings suggest that a better management of fallow land and more controlled use of fire in neighboring land uses could be a cost-effective manner to create Brazil nut rich forests through natural regeneration. On the other hand, the absence of high density Brazil nut stands in mature forests in Madre de Dios might mean that the impact of ancient humans there has been more limited than in other Amazonian regions.

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  • Impacto del cambio climático sobre la cadena de valor del café en el Perú

Impacto del cambio climático sobre la cadena de valor del café en el Perú

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Climate change is affecting the value chain of Peruvian coffee. Changes in rainfall patterns and temperature variations reduce crop productivity and decrease its quality. The present study estimates that between 13% and 40% of the coffee area of the country’s northeast will no longer be suitable for coffee; these areas should develop adaptation strategies and actions that contemplate crop change. Between 85% and 45% of producers will have to carry out actions of incremental or systemic adaptation that allow crop sustainability, which includes sources of additional income.

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  • Institutionalization of REDD+ MRV in Indonesia, Peru, and Tanzania: progress and implications

Institutionalization of REDD+ MRV in Indonesia, Peru, and Tanzania: progress and implications

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Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD+) has opened up a new global discussion on forest monitoring and carbon accounting in developing countries. We analyze and compare the extent to which the concept of measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) for REDD+ has become institutionalized in terms of new policy discourses, actors, resources, and rules in Indonesia, Peru, and Tanzania. To do so, we draw on discursive institutionalism and the policy arrangement approach. A qualitative scale that distinguishes between “shallow” institutionalization on the one end, and “deep” institutionalization on the other, is developed to structure the analysis and comparison. Results show that in all countries MRV has become institutionalized in new or revised aims, scope, and strategies for forest monitoring, and development of new agencies and mobilization of new actors and resources. New legislations to anchor forest monitoring in law and procedures to institutionalize the roles of the various agencies are being developed. Nevertheless, the extent to which MRV has been institutionalized varies across countries, with Indonesia experiencing “deep” institutionalization, Peru “shallow-intermediate” institutionalization, and Tanzania “intermediate-deep” institutionalization. We explore possible reasons for and consequences of differences in extent of institutionalization of MRV across countries.

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  • Unpacking 'sustainable' cocoa: do sustainability standards, development projects and policies address producer concerns in Indonesia, Cameroon and Peru?

Unpacking ‘sustainable’ cocoa: do sustainability standards, development projects and policies address producer concerns in Indonesia, Cameroon and Peru?

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Sustainable cocoa has attracted considerable attention. However, stakeholders in cocoa development may differ in their understanding of sustainable cocoa, their interests and actions taken in advancing sustainable cocoa. This article analyses cocoa sustainability at nested scales and analyses to what extent sustainability standards, policies and development projects address sustainability concerns and contribute to ecosystem services. The analysis is based on literature reviews and key informant interviews in Sulawesi (Indonesia), Ucayali (Peru) and Centre Region (Cameroon). Producers in all three countries shared concerns of price volatility, weak farmer organizations and dependence on few buyers. Producers in Sulawesi and Centre Region compensated low returns to cocoa production by diversification of cocoa systems. Public and private development actors were concerned with low production volumes. Research has so far focused on biodiversity loss, which differed depending on the cocoa sector’s age in a country. Policies and development programs in all countries have focused on cocoa sector expansion and productivity increases, irrespective of smallholder needs for economically viable farming systems and existing market structures resulting in little bargaining power to farmers. Sustainability standards have spread unevenly and have converged in compliance criteria over time, although initially differing in focus. Recently added business and development criteria of sustainability standards can potentially address farmers’ concerns. Competing interests and interdependencies between different actors’ responses to concerns have so far not been openly acknowledged by public and private sector actors.


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