Peru

Spearheading a rights-based community forest management approach proven to halt deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest.

2020

Started working in 2005

0

57 Indigenous communities supported through partners or direct support

1 M

Acres of rainforest protected through monitoring

Our Work

Rainforest Foundation US focuses its work in Peru in the eastern and northeastern Amazonian regions of Loreto, Ucayali, and Madre de Dios.

We support our Indigenous partners in designing, implementing, and leading evidence-based strategies for rainforest protection and territorial management at scale. Through the democratization of information, technology, and financing, Indigenous communities are better equipped to defend their lands from threats, and influence national and international policies that impact their rights and overall well-being, especially in the context of climate change.

Indigenous women are at the forefront in the fight against the climate crisis. They face complex and diverse challenges, ranging from struggling to secure land rights to limited access to education and healthcare. RFUS prioritizes Gender and Social Inclusion through affirmative actions, which span across all our programs.

Our current initiatives in Peru are based on three strategic priorities:

Land Rights

Land rights are consistently the number one demand of Indigenous peoples globally, but securing land titles can be slow and dangerous. In Peru, we have co-created an innovative approach to land titling. Indigenous communities, grassroots organizations, federations, regional governments, and RFUS are joining forces to successfully map and title Indigenous lands in record time. This has already yielded unprecedented results, with land titles being delivered in record time. Now, we aim to expand this strategy to other Amazonian regions and communities adjacent to territories reserved for Indigenous Peoples in Voluntary Isolation (PIACI) to create a corridor for forest protection.

The Amazon is the world’s most dangerous region for environmental defenders, who often face threats to their lives. RFUS collaborates with ORAU to implement preventive measures, enabling communities to be better prepared against these threats. RFUS has also supported advocacy efforts for the widows of four Indigenous environmental defenders from the Amazonian community of Saweto, who were assassinated in 2014, presumably by illegal loggers. In 2022, the perpetrators and industry executives responsible for the crime were finally brought to justice and convicted by the Superior Court of Justice in Ucayali, Peru.

Territorial Protection

RFUS supports more than 57 Indigenous communities, five Indigenous federations, and one regional Indigenous peoples’ organization to implement a co-designed territorial monitoring program called “Rainforest Alert: Information Into Action.” This program uses emerging data and technology to quickly detect and report illegal deforestation. Through Rainforest Alert, communities aim to regain material, political, and intellectual control of their territories. And it works. The program has seen documented success in achieving reduced deforestation and is now scaling up across the region. We are also piloting a version of Rainforest Alert that incorporates a payments-for-results model of deforestation reduction.

Organizational Strengthening

RFUS facilitates strengthening community governance and their capacity to manage funds and projects for the community’s benefit, fostering sustainability and economic autonomy. RFUS also strengthens relationships among Indigenous communities, Peruvian government officials, and private enterprises to explore opportunities for sustainable production and fair trade. These initiatives aim to enhance collective governance, improve livelihoods, ensure food security, and provide bioeconomic alternatives to vulnerable communities.

Rainforests

More than 60% of Peru is covered by tropical forests, making it the country with the fourth largest area of these vital ecosystems in the world. 94% of these forests—covering over 192.7 million acres—are part of the Amazon rainforest. It is the second-largest Amazonian national territory, surpassed only by Brazil.

Peru’s tropical rainforests hold multifaceted importance for the entire planet. As one of the world’s 17 megadiverse countries and home to 10% of global species, Peru plays a pivotal role in addressing both the biodiversity and climate crises. These forests act as a net carbon sink, effectively capturing more atmospheric carbon than they emit. The Peruvian Amazon alone removes over 57 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere every year.

Indigenous Peoples

Nearly 20% of Peru’s population—or six million people—is Indigenous. The Peruvian government recognizes more than 9,000 Indigenous or native communities representing 55 distinct peoples—51 from the Amazon and 4 from the Andes—including Quechua, Ashaninka, Shipibo-Konibo, Shawi, Yagua, Achuar, Wampis, among others. At least 20 PIACI (Indigenous Peoples in Voluntary Isolation or Initial Contact), totaling close to 7,500 people, continue to live in the Peruvian Amazon.

Indigenous peoples protect nearly a quarter—over 18 million hectares—of the Peruvian Amazon. Land rights in Peru stand as a central demand of Indigenous peoples. Nearly 700 communities continue to advocate for their rights to ancestral territories, while 116 have yet to be recognized by the Peruvian state.

Threats

Peru’s forests are among the most deforested in the world. Between 2001 and 2022, Peru lost 3.86 million hectares of tree cover (or 4.9%) to deforestation, resulting in 2.44Gt of CO₂ emissions. 2.47 million of those hectares were primary rainforests. In 2022, Peru was third among tropical countries in Latin America and fifth worldwide that lost the most primary forest that year.

The main drivers of deforestation in Peru are interconnected through a network of illicit activities. These include illegal logging, land trafficking, illegal mining, and drug trafficking. As the world’s second largest producer of coca, there has been an alarming surge in change of land use from primary forests to coca plantations. In 2022 alone, illegal coca plantations occupied nearly 14,000 hectares of Indigenous peoples’ territories. This growing trend perpetuates violence against Indigenous communities.

Other threats include the encroachment of infrastructure development projects, oil and gas drilling, small-scale agriculture, and palm oil plantations. Peru has emerged as the Latin American country most affected by environmental conflicts related to infrastructure projects, impacting 457 communities.

According to Peru’s Forest and Wildlife Law (Law No. 29763), deforestation is prohibited on Indigenous peoples’ territories. But increasing pressure for intensive land use often results in illegal invasions on Indigenous peoples’ lands, exposing them to violence and intimidation. This situation is exacerbated by the surge in impunity for environmental crimes, largely due to the country’s ongoing political crisis.

Partners

Take Action Against Climate Change

Rainforests absorb and store more carbon dioxide than all other types of forests, making rainforest protection one of the most effective solutions to climate change. Support Indigenous peoples on the frontlines of rainforest protection.

Hover over the amounts to see what your donation can achieve:

AIDESEP – Asociación Interétnica de Desarrollo de la Selva Peruana

The Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Jungle is the spokesperson organization for the indigenous peoples of the Amazon in Peru, which works for the defense and respect of their collective rights. AIDESEP has 109 federations that represent 1,809 communities where more than 650,000 indigenous men and women live, grouped into 19 linguistic families.

ORPIO – Organización Regional de los Pueblos Indígenas del Oriente

Organization of the Indigenous Peoples of the Eastern Amazon (Organización Regional de los Pueblos Indígenas del Oriente, or ORPIO) is the indigenous peoples’ representative organization in the Amazonian department Loreto, Peru, representing  indigenous peoples and 430 communities. ORPIO engages in protecting their territories, promoting human development, and defending their rights and indigenous governance. 

ORAU – Organización Regional Aidesep Ucayali

The Regional Organization Aidesep Ucayali (Organización Regional Aidesep Ucayali, or ORAU) represents 15 indigenous peoples, 13 subnational federations. ORAU engages in promoting the economic, social, political and cultural development of the indigenous peoples that it represents.

Saweto-Alto Tamaya

The indigenous Asheninka community of Saweto, located in eastern Ucayali, suffered from the massacre of their leaders by illegal loggers in 2014. RFUS leads the legal representation of Saweto, while also facilitating their land titling and security. The Justice for Saweto campaign aims to ensure the Saweto issue remains visible and to help raise the necessary financial support to ensure the community and the widows remain safe. RFUS coordinates with multiple national and international governmental and non-governmental allies to support this effort.

ECA-RCA – Ejecutor del Contrato de Administración de la Reserva Comunal Amarakaeri

Executor of the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve Administration Contract (Ejecutor del Contrato de Administración de la Reserva Comunal Amarakaeri, or ECA-RCA) ECA-RCA represents 10 indigenous communities along the buffer one of the of the world’s most biodiverse protected areas. ECA co-manages the communal reserve with the National Protected Areas Service of Peru (SERNANP) ensuring the conservation of biological diversity and the benefit for its associates.

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Didier Devers
Chief of Party – USAID Guatemala
gro.y1709377591nffr@1709377591sreve1709377591dd1709377591

Didier has been coordinating the USAID-funded B’atz project since joining Rainforest Foundation US in April 2022. He holds a Master’s in Applied Anthropology and a Bachelor’s in Geography. Before joining the organization, Didier worked for 12 years in Central and South America on issues of transparency, legality, governance, and managing stakeholders’ processes in the environmental sector. Prior to that he worked on similar issues in Central Africa. He speaks French, Spanish, and English, and is based in Guatemala.