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

In Brief


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


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

Conservation Value:

The Peruvian Amazon is one of the world’s last few high-biodiversity wilderness areas—a place of astounding species richness and diverse indigenous peoples, including tribes living in voluntary isolation.


Over the last three decades the region has faced increasing deforestation from the advancing agricultural frontier, illegal logging and mining.

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

Illegal gold mining deforestation in La Pampa exposed by MAAP in 2019 (credit: MAAP)

Actions & Results:

Key to addressing threats is the collection of precise information on where and why deforestation is occurring and disseminating this information to allow action to be taken. ICFC's partner Amazon Conservation (AC) leads deforestation monitoring in megadiverse tropical forests with its initiative called MAAP (Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project). MAAP develops and publishes timely, high-impact technical reports in an easily accessible and understandable format for government officials, civil society and the public, featuring the most urgent deforestation cases coupled with the application of cutting-edge monitoring technology. In 2019, MAAP worked with national and local partners to identify major deforestation events in or near key protected areas in the Ecuadorian and Colombian Amazon. MAAP’s public report #106 detailed incursions into four protected areas in Colombia. MAAP investigated the Brazilian Amazon fires, revealing that many fires were linked to recent deforestation, some in early 2019 (MAAP #109). On the policy front in Peru, AC made important advances, helping to create the country’s National Control and Surveillance System of Forest and Wildlife to link early warning deforestation alerts with appropriate policy action. At the regional level, coordination was strengthened between the Satellite Monitoring Unit of the Specialized Prosecutors in Environmental Matters (FEMA) in Madre de Dios and the national FEMA office in Lima. Another positive development is that the Peruvian government now accepts drone and satellite imagery as legally admissible evidence in the prosecution of environmental crimes. MAAP also continued to monitor new developments and the results of the Peruvian government's Operation Mercury⁠—the unprecedented, multi-sectoral, mega-operation aimed at eradicating illegal gold mining deforestation and associated crime in an area of Peru known as La Pampa.

Project Field Partner:

Amazon Conservation and Asociación para la Conservación de la Cuenca Amazónica


2020 budget (ICFC portion): US$143,034‬
Cumulative cost to ICFC (2013-2019): CA$765,625

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In More Depth...

Program Partners and Personnel

Our partners for this project are Amazon Conservation (AC) 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 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 AC Board members Bruce Babbitt (former US Secretary of the Interior, and former Governor of Arizona) and Peruvian conservationist and AC co-founder Enrique Ortiz.


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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