Exporters in Peru and importers in the UnitedStates and around the world are currently
timber from the Peruvian Amazon. Sometimesintentionally, sometimes through sheernegligence, each of the actors and agenciesinvolved in this system are working as gears ina well-oiled machine that is ransacking Peru’sforests and undermining the livelihoods andrights of the people that depend on them.
the systematic export and import of illegalwood from Peru to the US. In many ways thisreport not a new story: the system’s corruptionis something of which everyone in the sectoris aware. EIA’s contribution lies in having
of the puzzle to reveal the mechanism thatallows this trade to happen: what we call herethe “laundering machine”.There are, of course, individuals andorganizations in this sector who are tryingto work legally; but corruption and illegality
have their hands tied by lack of resources both
change the system are summarily dismissed oreven threatened with physical violence and, inextreme cases, physically attacked.
Peru is receiving around 150 million dollars from
and national counterparts for programs offorest conservation and management that –directly or indirectly – contribute to reducingcarbon emissions from deforestation or forestdegradation (REDD). However, this investigationsuggests that Peruvian authorities currentlyhave little capacity to control what’s happeningin their forests. The results of this reportdemonstrate that the Ministry of Agriculture– responsible for Production Forests – isn’tadequately monitoring the concessions inits purview; that the Ministry of Environment– responsible for Protected Forests – isn’t
forests under its charge; and that the RegionalGovernments do not yet have the capacity to
up on the legal cases that do arise.
EIA’s investigative work focused onreconstructing the routes that timber takesfrom the Amazon to the warehouses of US
obtained under Peru’s Transparency andAccess to Public Information Law. Thelinks in this chain are willfully obscured toperpetuate confusion about the origins ofalmost all timber traded in Peru. EIA was ableto reconstruct the chain of custody for trade incedar (Cedrela odorata) and bigleaf mahogany(Swietenia macrophylla) only because bothspecies are protected under the Conventionon International Trade in Endangered Speciesof Flora and Fauna (CITES) and thus require
illegal modus operandi is being applied forother species, but the even more limitedinformation available regarding non-CITESspecies trade makes it virtually impossibleto connect the concession of origin with theshipments being exported.By crossing public information on (a) the“supervision” inspections conducted by theSupervisory Body for Forest Resources andWildlife (OSINFOR for its Spanish initials) ona series of timber concessions with (b) thedocumentation for CITES export permits for
100 shipments containing illegally logged CITESwood that were exported to the US betweenJanuary 2008 and May 2010 – that is, more than35% of all such shipments with CITES permitsthat left Peru for the US during this period.Peru’s primary exporter, Maderera Bozovich,exported shipments under 152 CITES permitsduring this time, at least 45% of which includedwood of illegal origin. It is likely that more
these percentages are actually higher.
THE MOTIVE AND THE MECHANISM
Illegal logging is a lucrative business. Expensesother than transport costs are low, without anyconcern for decent wages or environmentalpractices. A large old rainforest tree may producearound three cubic meters of export-qualitywood, and exporters receive about US$1700/m3for mahogany or almost $1000/m3 for cedar.
Inthe US, the prices are even more dramatic: thewood from a single Peruvian mahogany tree canfetch over $11,000 on the US lumber market, and
that from a single cedar tree over $9000.