• Linking near real-time deforestation monitoring with policy action in the Andean Amazon

In Brief

Location:

Andean Amazon: primarily Peru (but also Ecuador and Bolivia)

Goal:

To greatly reduce forest loss in the extremely biodiverse Andean Amazon, focusing currently on Peru.

Conservation Value:

When it comes to deforestation, prevention is best, when feasible. The Peruvian government is motivated to end illegal logging but has lacked information about the locations and drivers of forest loss. Providing this information, as this project does, is a highly cost effective piece of the conservation solution.

Threats:

Currently, the prime threat to forest ecosystems in Peru is conversion for oil palm and cacao plantations.

As oil and gas projects push deeper into the primary forests of the Andean Amazon, it is critical to ensure that this development does not bring the irreversible secondary impacts associated with new roads, most notably colonization and associated deforestation."
— Matt Finer

Actions & Results:

Project personnel have developed and are disseminating a new and high-impact near-real-time deforestation monitoring system known as Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP). This is making a difference! We also promote:

  • Enforceable laws, regulations and policies to prohibit forest conversion for oil palm plantations and incentivize the use of degraded lands for oil palm expansion;
  • Mandatory "offshore-inland" (roadless) oil and gas exploration and development to avoid major impacts from service roads;
  • Hydroelectric development at high elevation sites in the western Andes instead of lowland sites;
  • Improved infrastructure investment plans that avoid construction of environmentally destructive roads.

Project Field Partner:

Amazon Conservation Association and Asociación para la Conservación de la Cuenca Amazónica

Cost:

2017 budget, ICFC portion: US$100,499

Cumulative cost to ICFC (2014-2016): $217,318

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In More Depth...

Program Partners and Personnel

Our partners for this project are Amazon Conservation Association (ACA) and Asociación para la Conservación de la Cuenca Amazónica (ACCA). ICFC, is supporting the position for a Policy Specialist in Peru, and, with NORAD (Norway's international aid agency), the leadership position of Infrastructure Specialist.

Key personnel: Matthew S. Finer, PhD, is the project's Infrastructure Specialist, and is uniquely qualified for this position given his extensive experience analyzing potential impacts from development projects in the Andean Amazon. Matt and Amazon Conservation Association had leveraged ICFC's earlier funding and assembled a team that includes a GIS specialist. In promoting best practices in Peru, Matt also liaises with ACA Board members Bruce Babbitt (former US Secretary of the Interior, and former Governor of Arizona) and Peruvian conservationist and ACA co-founder Enrique Ortiz.

Background

The Amazon headwaters emerge in the snow-capped Andes and in just a few hundred kilometers descend six thousand meters to lowland tropical forest. One of the most biodiverse regions on the planet, the region's remoteness has protected it from the extensive deforestation and land invasions that are spreading westward across the Amazon basin from Brazil. Now, however, both the remote reaches of the headwaters and their lower courses are under threat due to the discovery of huge oil and gas deposits along the eastern front of the Andes, as well as unregulated gold mining (see below), ill-planned hydroelectric dams, the spread of oil palm and cacao plantations, new roads opening up remote areas and widespread illegal logging.

The creation of protected areas and indigenous reserves has been the primary strategy for conserving the natural and cultural values of the region. These strategies are essential but not sufficient because the unplanned construction of roads and other infrastructure can rapidly open the region to land invasions and deforestation, threatening the integrity of parks and protected areas. To ensure the future of these last pristine regions of the Amazon, it is imperative to couple these strategies with enlightened planning for resource and infrastructure development. This project provides for one strategic personnel position to develop the technical basis to inform and improve environmental policy and promote best practice in the region.

Fast fact: In the 100-km slice from Cuzco to Manu in Peru, you can find more than 10% of the global total avifauna and more than 10% of the known butterfly fauna.

Actions and Results
  • Developed a novel spatial monitoring methodology to identify near-real-time deforestation due to illegal logging, oil palm and cacao plantations, road development and illegal mining.
  • Launched the Monitoring Andean Amazon Project (MAAP) portal, where timely technical information on deforestation is made accessible. This has been instrumental in providing key technical information to government agencies, civil society, journalists, and the general public.
  • Developed a database of existing and planned oil palm projects (with associated spatial data).
  • We are collaborating with Peruvian national and regional governmental agencies to assist their multi-pronged efforts to eliminate illegal resource extraction and development activities.
  • MAAP detected the illegal expansion of gold-mining into the Tambopata National Reserve in Madre de Dios in January 2016. The information was shared with the National Service of Protected Natural Areas (SERNANP), enabling enforcement action.
  • El Comercio, Peru's leading newspaper, published an article in April 2016 on the alarming continued expansion of gold-mining into the Tambopata National Reserve. The article featured MAAP images and quoted the head of the Peruvian National Park System.
  • Project personnel released a high-profile report entitled "High Resolution Satellite Imagery Reveals Petroamazonas Violated Environmental Impact Study by Building Road into Yasuni National Park", which documented that the Ecuadorian state oil company, Petroamazonas, built roads into Yasuni National Park. This was a big news story in Peru and sparked a response from the president of Peru, the environment ministry and the company.
  • Two peer-reviewed articles were published on: (1) the offshore inland model; and (2) development of a new methodology to track illegal roads.
Images: Deforestation

Images showing the expansion of deforestation by gold mining in La Pampa, Peru between August 2014 and July 2015, and detail, showing impact of illegal goldmining operations. from: MAAProject.org

Forest clearing for cacao (1st of 3),  MAAProject.org

Forest clearing for cacao (2nd of 3), from MAAProject.org

Forest clearing for cacao (3rd of 3), MAAProject.org

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