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Civil Society Statement on the Weakening of Institutions and Governance in the Forest Sector

Lima, Peru

We, the undersigned, express our rejection of the attempt to break the institutionalism of the Peruvian forest sector and to the unsubstantiated request for resignation of the director of the Peruvian forest authority, Serfor, which is undermining the function of the Consejo Directivo of Serfor.

Last week, it came to our attention that the Vice Minister of Agrarian Policy of the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation (MINAGRI), Paula Carrion Tello, convened a private meeting with the Director of Serfor, Alberto Gonzales-Zuniga, during which she requested his resignation following a decision by upper management of the sector. Gonzales requested that the request be submitted in writing, including an explanation of the reasons, which was denied.

The behavior of the vice minister drew strong attention, since she herself is the president of the Consejo Directivo of Serfor, yet ignored the fact that this body is the highest organ of the institution, and clearly violated the established procedures through a move like this.

We are aware that members of the Consejo Directivo who represent Indigenous Peoples and Civil Society have requested the announcement of an extraordinary meeting of the Serfor’s Council D. in which an explanation of this matter should be provided. We support this request and believe it is necessary in order to contribute to transparency in such a delicate [critical?] moment.

It is worth mentioning that G is the first Director of SERFOR who has been appointed through a public competitive process based on merit, endorsed by the National Civil Service Authority (SERVIR) and designated for a period of five years, precisely in order to guarantee the independence necessary to manage the natural forest resources in the country.

This order of resignation comes at a time when the current management of SERFOR is showing progress in the development of traceability mechanisms for timber, so that eventually its legal origin can be verified in the forest, in the supply chain, in trade and export. The advances in re-establishing this traceability has prompted a negative reaction from public and private actors who have come to benefit economically and politically from the illegal timber trade and from the corruption that is required for its laundering. In this process, several officials have received death threats, including physical attacks, in order to intimidate them and to stop the implementation of progress.

Therefore we, the undersigned express our concern about activities which attempt to weaken the forest institutions in Peru, and which put at risk the commitments made by the Peruvian State through the Free Trade Agreement with the United States. We support the efforts for a more transparent forest management free of corruption, that allows for an increase in national and global competitiveness of the Peruvian forest sector, and will bring sustainable development for the Amazon and its people.

Signed by

Asociación de Amazónicos por la Amazonía-AMPA Perú

Asociación Nacional de Centros-ANC

Asociación para la Investigación y Desarrollo Integral-AIDER

Cámara Regional de Segunda Transformación de Madera de Ucayali-CRESETMU

Centro para el Desarrollo del Indígena Amazónico-CEDIA

Centro Peruano de Estudios Sociales –CEPES

Centro de Conservación, Investigación y Manejo de Áreas Naturales - Cordillera Azul (CIMA- Cordillera Azul)

*César A. Ipenza Peralta, abogado especializado en materia Ambiental. DNI: 40287902 *

Colegio de Ingenieros del Perú, Consejo Departamental San Martín - Moyobamba

Comité de Defensa del Agua - Iquitos

Derecho, Ambiente y Recursos Naturales-DAR

*Environmental Investigation Agency-EIA *

Foro Ecológico del Perú

Frankfurt Zoological Society Perú (FZS Perú) Global Witness

Instituto del Bien Común - IBC

Instituto de Defensa Legal – IDL

Instituto de Montaña

Instituto de Promoción del Desarrollo Solidario-INPET Nature Services Perú-NSP

Oxfam en Perú

Patricia I. Fernández-Dávila. DNI: 08220816

Practical Action

Presidente del Capítulo de Ingenieros Forestales del Consejo Departamental de Ucayali del CIP

Proética

Red Ambiental Peruana-RAP

Silvia Sánchez Huamán

Sociedad Peruana de Ecodesarrollo-SPDE

Zoila Aurora Cruz Burga, profesora de la Facultad Ciencias Forestales, Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina. DNI: 09670549

Read the full statement in Spanish here

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