HomeNewsBriefCorruption, Lack of Capacity Drive Illegal Logging in Peru: Report
BRIEF

Corruption, Lack of Capacity Drive Illegal Logging in Peru: Report

ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME / 20 APR 2017 BY LEONARDO GOI EN

A new investigation by the Associated Press has shed additional light on how corruption and lack of political will act as prime drivers of Peru's lucrative illegal logging trade, with detrimental impacts on both security and the environment.

Illegal logging might be thriving again in Peru, a country that is home to the world's second-largest portion of the Amazon after Brazil, an April 19 report by the Associated Press has shown.

Despite efforts to combat the crime, an estimated 600 square miles of forest are logged illegally in Peru every year, the AP reported.

Corruption is a key contributing factor. For years, forestry officials have produced documents to falsify the origins of illegally harvested wood. Forest service spokeswoman Lissete Herrera told the Associated Press that one in seven of the more than 150 officials currently licensed to sign such permits is being investigated.

Lack of enforcement capacity and political will are also crucial drivers. To date, there have been no convictions under a 2015 anti-illegal logging law that established an eight-year maximum prison sentence for those convicted of the crime, the AP reported.

The AP also reported that Rolando Navarro, the former chief of Peru's forest inspection service who had led several important operations against illegal logging, was fired in January 2016 by former President Ollanta Humala. Shortly thereafter, Navarro fled to the United States after receiving death threats. Peruvian officials reportedly described his dismissal as motivated by the need for a "fresh face."

Things have not looked brighter under current President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski. Upon assuming office, Kuczynski dissolved the office of the illegal logging czar, while efforts to develop a GPS tree-identification system and create a drone inspection fleet have stalled.

An estimated 80 percent of timber exports from Peru are illegal, according to a joint study by the Inter-Ethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Forest (Asociación Interétnica de Desarrollo de la Selva Peruana - AIDESEP) and the Forest Peoples Programme.

InSight Crime Analysis

To be sure, illicit logging is not the only criminal activity posing threats to both Peru's environment and the country's security. Authorities have also struggled to contain illegal mining and the drug trade. But illegal logging is particularly profitable for crime groups.

In fact, a recent report from Global Financial Integrity (GFI) found illegal logging to be the most profitable natural resource crime, and estimated the illicit industry generates between $52 and $157 billion in annual revenues. The reason for its profitability is that it is very cost effective. Loggers, who are usually members of indigenous communities, earn about $70 per cubic meter of Peruvian mahogany, according to GFI. But as the wood travels along the supply chain, exporters earn $1,804 per cubic feet -- a 2,477 percent increase when compared to the illegal logger's revenues -- while importers earn $3,170 per cubic meter, an exorbitant 5,200 percent increase.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Eco Trafficking

Illegal logging has also been linked to violence. Poor illegal loggers are often just pawns in the lumber trade, and those who attempt to fight against criminal groups do so at their own risk -- as the murder of four indigenous men allegedly by the hands of illegal loggers in September 2014 showed.

In addition to threatening the environment and security, illegal logging also poses serious challenges for Peru's economy. During the past two years, the Associated Press reported, the country's logging industry lost an estimated $140 million in sales due bad publicity surrounding illegal logging.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

CHILE / 5 NOV 2020

A new report suggests the Chinese fishing fleet that mass trawled just off Ecuador’s Galápagos Islands in recent months crossed…

COSTA RICA / 29 NOV 2021

A new report has suggested that recent progress made in Costa Rica to protect its abundant shark and turtle populations…

COCA / 1 SEP 2021

Emerging from almost six decades of civil conflict, the world’s number one cocaine producer has paid scant attention to environmental…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…