in Peru

Federation of small farmers in Peru attacks REDD: “No REDD projects! No carbon trading!”

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On 19 April 2013, the Federation of small farmers of Madre de Dios in Peru (Federación Agraria Departmental de Madre de Dios – FADEMAD) produced a statement titled “The threats over us continue”. The statement raises serious concerns about REDD and related initiatives that are developing in the region.

The lowland Amazon forests of Madre de Dios in south-east Peru are amongst the most biodiverse in the world. But REDD schemes to preserve the forests of Madre de Dios and Peru are coming under increasing criticism. In February 2013, AIDESEP (Inter-Ethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Amazon) wrote to the Forest Investment Programme warning that REDD in Peru “will lead to an increase in emissions from deforestation”.

Also in February 2013, the Federation for Native Communities of Madre de Dios (FENAMAD) released a statement demanding greater accountability in forest and climate projects in Peru, including the Forest Investment Programme.

A draft copy of the Forest Investment Programme (FIP) Plan for Peru, dated 15 March 2013, is available here in Spanish (pdf file, 2.5 MB). The FIP in Peru is funded by the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. The draft of the FIP Plan focusses on the Peruvian Amazon and aims to address the causes of deforestation, improving forest governance and involving civil society and the private sector. The draft describes REDD as “a very promising tool to support the efforts of the country in this process of change, fundamental to face deforestation and forest degradation”.

While the plan is supposed to improve the living conditions of local communities, it puts the blame for 75% of deforestation on small-scale agriculture, stating that it is “the peasants that deforest and burn the forests”. The “thematic areas” of the FIP Plan reveal that FIP plans to promote “sustainable business” by “putting a value on environmental assets” and “institutional innovation and development of markets”.

FADEMAD’s statement is available here in Spanish (pdf file, 3.1 MB). It ends with a rejection of REDD: “No REDD projects! No carbon trading!” The following account, based on FADEMAD’s statement, was produced by the World Rainforest Movement:

On 19 April, the Peruvian Departmental Agrarian Federation of Madre de Dios (FADEMAD) presented a document to its federation members titled “The threats over us continue”. The document raises serious concerns about how REDD and related initiatives are advancing in the region.

The document recalls that in 2011 the federation opposed several attempts for REDD projects to be set up in the region. These included a project funded by BAM (Bosques Amazonicos), with an organization called FEFOREMAD, where those involved had to give up fundamental rights. During the same time, an organisation by the name of ACCA approached FADEMAD with a REDD project, which FADEMAD also rejected. In that same year, NGOs were also going straight to communities trying to sign forest carbon agreements.

Recently, in February 2013, FADEMAD was visited by people from Nature Services Peru, an organisation working to promote “the competitiveness of the sustainable economy in Madre de Dios”. They asked many questions and made FADEMAD representatives fill in many papers, but tried to hide that in fact the whole proposal they were presenting to FADEMAD was about commodifying nature. FADEMAD made clear that they were not interested.

In March 2013, another NGO, AIDER, invited FADEMAD to a meeting where a French businessmen from an organization called ‘LIVELIHOODS friendly’ told them that they were interested in supporting reforestation of 5,000 hectares with tree species that people could choose themselves. By the end of the conversation, the people from LIVELIHOODS mentioned that they already had “customers” in the “first world” interested in compensating their emissions through supporting reforestation of the 5,000 hectares in an agroforestry scheme. The FADEMAD representatives responded then that they were delighted to be involved in an agroforestry project on 5,000 hectares but that they were not interested in doing carbon business, based on the bad experience before with the project of BAM with FEFORAMAD.

One week later, AIDER requested a second meeting, at the FADEMAD office, also asking FADEMAD to help with inviting local people from some territories within the National Reserve area Tambopata and its buffer zone. This meeting was conducted by AIDER and the Peruvian representative of LIVELIHOODS, presenting the proposal (for the 5,000 hectare agroforestry project) as a “competition” and that the people had the chance to win(!). The LIVELIHOODS representative again mentioned that this project was focused on the carbon market. Again, the FADEMAD leaders warned community people present about the dangers of such projects, but in vain. Community people filled in the forms “expressing their intention to be considered to participate actively in the agroforestry project”.

Afterwards, on 18 April, FADEMAD was called to another meeting, this time of the FIP (the Forest Investment Program), with all the actors they already knew but now they saw them all together in the same meeting. FADEMAD comments in the statement to its members that then they understood that it was all these actors together that are behind this whole “green economy” idea, pursuing a common idea “to contribute to net zero greenhouse gas emissions from land use change and forests”. According to the FIP spokesperson, in Peru FIP decided to give priority to the Amazon where, according to him, logging and burning of forest for conversion to other land uses are the main causes of deforestation. But according to FADEMAD, the FIP spokesman forgot to mention that most of the global emissions that cause climate change come from burning of fossil fuels and that the carbon cycle in the Peruvian forests is part of a normal and infinite biomass cycle.

At the end of the statement, FADEMAD shows how legislative proposals, Free Trade Agreements and other market-oriented neoliberal tools are linked to this process of ‘green economy’. Using the present Forest Law as an example they state that “a quick analysis … shows us the inconsistencies of the proposal of economic growth and environmental sustainability (under which name they are plundering our natural resources) in more than 30 articles of the law, in addition to mentioning ecosystem services, they also mention tree plantations and even agroforestry.”

FADEMAD concludes that some governments and businesses, including the World Bank and regional banks, are using the crises that affect the survival of human societies as we know them today and the territories they depend on as an opportunity to make profits. The organization also accuses “scientists and specialists” dedicated to making a living with carbon money of appropriating concepts like ‘agroforestry’, something the communities in the Peruvian Amazon themselves have been practising for many years.

The FADEMAD letter concludes with some points that highlight the challenge they face: how their weaknesses, such as the lack of secured land rights of their members, as well as difficulties as organizations, are being used as an “opportunity” for those who want to come and implement the aforementioned projects and plans. Even more division in and among communities can be the result. Another point mentioned is their evaluation that the national REDD and Payment for Environmental Services initiatives in Peru do not address the real causes of deforestation or exaggerate certain causes, like the agricultural activity, while not exposing others, like the big logging concessions.

And finally, FADEMAD affirms that the rural organizations are not only divided and weakened, they are now also seriously threatened by all these new initiatives. They make an urgent appeal to defend the communities from the invasions they are exposed to, today, more than ever.

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