Using contextual information to address bottlenecks in restoration

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A mangrove area is pictured near Tumbes, Peru. Photo by B. Locatelli/CIFOR

Outcome details

Overview of policy or practice situation CIFOR sought to influence

In Peru, the forestry plantations sector is not considered a driver of national economic development. In 2010, it contributed only approximately 1.1% to the Gross National Product. The forestry sector is dominated by wood extraction from natural forests and Peru is a major importer of wood products, despite having the potential to become a producer and exporter itself. There is a negative trade deficit in forestry products with a projection of this reaching US$ 2610 million by 2023.[1] In terms of forest products, of the 1, 69 million m3 of wood produced, 80% came from natural forests with only 20% from plantations.[2] Although there have been major advances in Peru with respect to government commitments to provide legislative frameworks to encourage the plantation sector (Forestry and Wildlife law No. 29763 from 2011 and Regulation via Executive Decree No. 020-2015-MNAGRI in 2015), there are still important regulatory, fiscal, technical and institutional limitations which hinder progress. Historically there has been a tendency to look outside of Peru (e.g. to Brazil or Chile) for examples of how to develop the plantations sector, while information on past experiences from Peru have not been capitalized on to provide lessons and avenues towards developing a vision fit for its socioeconomic and environmental context.

During the COP 20 held in Lima, in December 2014, Peru joined other Latin American countries in pledging to reforest 20 million hectares by 2020 via the 20×20 Initiative. This Latin American and Caribbean initiative aims to contribute to the Bonn Challenge, a global commitment to restore 150 million hectares by 2030. Well managed forestry plantations have the potential to contribute significantly to meeting these international commitments through reducing deforestation of natural forests, restoring forests and addressing internal timber needs within Peru.

During a meeting in 2015 with the previous Director of SERFOR, Fabiola Muñoz, it became clear that SERFOR were exploring possibilities to overcome the bottlenecks associated with the timber production industry. In particular they wanted to find ways to address the negative trade balance. They organized an international seminar in early 2016 inviting guests from Chile, Brazil, Costa Rica and Germany with the aim of learning from their experiences. In this context and given the lack of documented information and detailed reflection on the particularities of the Peru case, CIFOR decided to develop a report focused on a national assessment. The research and dissemination of the report findings occurred between 1 October 2015 – 30 September 2017

Project design, products and influence strategies

The aim of the report was to undertake a retrospective analysis, to collect and synthesise the available information on past experiences and lessons learned in Peru. It was felt that the publication could contribute to the plantations discourse by filling an information void and detailing the building blocks Peru could use to start to plan for the long term. The result was the publication and launch of the document “Las plantaciones forestales en Peru: Reflexiones, estatus actual y perspectivas” in 2017. As Manuel suggests it raised awareness. “It made people think that things have happened before and made people aware of the many bottlenecks that need to be overcome that had been mentioned verbally in many meetings” but were never systematically documented.

In October 2017, National news outlets in Peru published a notice that SERFOR was developing a legislative proposal with a focus on economic incentives to promote forestry plantations.[3] Given this news a meeting was organized with SERFOR in their offices on the 17th November 2017. The meeting was attended by Dennis Armas (Specialist in Forest Business and Markets), and Próspero Yance (Coordinator of Forestry Plantations). During the meeting Dennis Armas mentioned with reference to Peru’s 20×20 pledge that “In fact, before we started the work on the legislative proposal we were asked ‘why can we not plant the 2 million hectares?’ and so CIFOR’s information was used to help to formulate the response. Also we looked at documents produced by GIZ and others. It was hard for us to understand how they had made this agreement without enough information to know if it was possible or not.” We were shown an internal report which included a quote from our publication. The report was addressed to the General Director for Forest and Wildlife Policy and Competitivity and our publication was used to highlight the steps that would need to be taken in order to address the limitations and bottlenecks in the forestry plantation sector for Peru to be able to fulfil their pledge. Commercial plantations were envisioned as a solution but for this to be a viable option there would need to be economic incentives, to increase reforestation while decreasing deforestation of natural forest. The legislative proposal developed by SERFOR had received comments and observations from the Ministry for Economy and Finance (MEF) and near the end of the meeting we were asked if we would be able to collaborate in generating scientific information which could address some of these observations. A week later via email CIFOR was asked to contribute to the development of guidelines on how to investigate the hypothesis “Forestry plantations can diminish poverty in the country and particularly in rural areas?” This request for information allows us to evidence one of the proposed outcomes of the FLR project: that decision makers are drawn to establish links between FLR and socioeconomic factors such as poverty reduction.

It was significant that CIFOR was mentioned in the SERFOR report as we believe that our contribution made the government actors aware that work still needs to be done in order to be able to reach their original plan of having 2 million hectares of planted forests. It offers them insights which will be useful for planning as they became aware of the bottlenecks and areas which need further work such as incentives and land tenure conflicts, topics which are addressed in the CIFOR report. Manuel suggests that “The report emphasizes a long-term vision and the need to go beyond government cycles and this is the vision which we hope they have taken seriously from the report.”

The main success factors relate to collaboration and the development of relationships with key individuals and networks. The original idea for the report was born out of discussions with the previous Director from SERFOR which allowed us to identify a gap in information and a way in which CIFOR could contribute meaningfully to the discussion in Peru. CIFOR partnered with GIZ through their ProAmbiente-1 programme whose mandate was to support the forest service in Peru. Each organization hired a consultant to work on developing the assessment. CIFOR contributed around US$30 000 and GIZ around US$20 000. The CIFOR consultant approached the work from a silvicultural management standpoint and the GIZ consultant looked at the historical development, incentives, successes and failures in past reforestation programmes. Manuel Guariguata from CIFOR oversaw and led the process of merging, synthesising and polishing the two documents into one, which was published in 2017 as “Las plantaciones forestales en Peru: Reflexiones, estatus actual y perspectivas”. Consideration was given to the length of the document so that it could include the necessary information and be useful to decision makers in the forestry sector. Many challenges were overcome as the information gathering process was complicated by the fact that much of the information on the forestry sector in Peru was not easily accessible through standard data gathering methods e.g. journal articles, reports, newspapers or blogs. This added significance to the work undertaken by CIFOR whose aim was to influence an adaptive management mindset where information is recorded and stored so that lessons can be taken from past experiences in Peru.

A key event was organized by CIFOR on 22 June 2017 for the dissemination of the report. A panel of experts and a moderator were carefully selected to reflect the different actors involved in the forestry sector in Peru and predetermined questions were provided. 90 people attended the event and it was live streamed with over 300 people viewing the event on the day. It was video-taped and a blog was written. The video streaming was the most seen video stream event of CIFOR in 2017 with over 600 views on YouTube within the first week. Manuel Guariguata received an award for this achievement at the CIFOR Annual Meeting in October 2017. Live streaming was an important decision to be able to reach actors outside of the capital city, Lima. There was widespread dissemination pre-event through networks and online platforms. Participants were invited using an established list of key stakeholders handled by Yoly Guttierez (COE) and the dissemination was targeted at international cooperation agencies, academia, government agencies and other interested parties including SERFOR, who would most benefit from this information.

In selecting the panel for the event, consideration was given to the gender and discipline balance. The panelists included Jessica Moscosa, the director of CITEMadera, a centre which specializes in wood technology who was able to speak about the added value and what they would need in order to be able to accomplish their mission in the context of planted forests. There was a representative from the private sector, Robert Herena from the Banati Reforestation company. Jose Luis Capella, from SPDA, the most reputable environmental law NGO in Peru, was able to explore how to deal with social conflict and ensure safeguards when establishing plantations. The Dean of the Forestry School of the National Agricultural University of La Molina, Carlos Llerena, was invited to give his perspective on the curricular components. The other key actor was Eloy Cuellar, the representative from INIA (National Institute for Agricultural Investigation). This is the official body with the mandate to design forestry research in Peru. The moderator, Hector Cisneros, is the coordinator for the Forestry programme from FAO and was chosen as he has a broad vision and capacity to lead the discussion and steer the panel with relevant questions. Obtaining a gender balance was challenging due to the gender in-balance inherent in the forestry sector in Peru and steps were made to address this by inviting a female panelist from the private sector. One important consideration and the key to the success was inviting a representative from SERFOR to be part of the panel. Initially Juan Carlos Guzman, the Director General was invited but this responsibility was given to the Director from the Department for Promotion and Competitivity, Alonso Rizo-Patron Mailhe. This was a well-thought out strategy to engage the forestry sector in the discussion. The idea was that this representative would be able to share the insights gained from the event with the Director General and other colleagues in the SERFOR offices.

The document was the result of a collaborative effort. It was developed in partnership with GIZ, a cooperation agency who has an important presence in Peru. It was an inclusive process in the sense of information gathering, not only looking at secondary sources or webpages but interviewing key people. The document was externally reviewed by four Peruvian experts (from FAO, CITEMadera, SPDA, and an independent consultant). This gave legitimacy to the process. We launched an event which socialized the report and we did the dissemination work. The design of the product was also important because of its rigorous treatment of the status and trends of the plantation forestry sector and we worked a lot on how to design the report in a meaningful way. The level of inclusiveness both in gathering the material, quality control and getting feedback from key people from different sectors, gave the publication legitimacy. So, relevance and legitimacy were key success factors. “The value of CIFOR was to offer a tangible product based on some research that puts it on paper and when you put that on paper it really makes a difference especially in this country” (Manuel Guariguata), particularly as most of the information was so hard to get and so difficult to synthesis.

Enabling factors

Political context

The policy environment was one in which SERFOR was seeking policy change and they wanted a new vision for the state to boost productivity. The political motive was that the negative trade balance was unsustainable as Peru cannot continue to import wood from Chile. Other external factors which had an influence were that in 2016 an executive decree (Decreto Supremo) was emitted which minimizes the bureaucratic processes for plantations. This was achieved through lobbying by the private sector who argued that the forestry plantations sector was too heavily regulated and this limited its possibilities for development. We had mentioned this development in the report as a recent advance in Peru. Additionally, the Forestry Chapter of the Forestry Engineers College (Colegio de Ingenieros) have been having meetings about how to make the forestry plantations sector an economic option. There is another group of people called Mesa Forestal (forestry working group) which is organized by ADEX (Exporters Organisation) whose forestry chapter was also meeting to address this topic. The international agenda played a key role as Peru committed to the 20×20 initiative to restore 2 million hectares. The CIFOR report provided a reality check as the Peruvian government had pledged to achieve its goals through plantations rather than through using abandoned fields which could regenerate naturally or ecosystem restoration or secondary succession. We raised awareness of the limitations of reaching these ambitious goals. “It was a political target and it was not scientifically based and to me that is the value of our report” (Manuel Guariguata).

Key contributors

  • DFID
  • Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad (CONABIO)
  • Comision Nacional Forestal (CONAFOR)
  • IUCN/SNV Community-based Natural Resource Management Programme

References to the work of the project that contributed to the outcome

[1] Quispe, A (2015). Análisis del reglamento para la gestión de las plantaciones forestales y sistemas agroforestales. En: Seminario Nacional.

[2] SERFOR, Servicio Nacional Forestal y de Fauna Silvestre. 2015. Perú Forestal en Números 2015.

[3] Ley Plantaciones Forestales (10/10/2017).


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