• Peru

Legal framework for forest management and timber trade of Peru

Forest governance

In Peru SERFOR (Servicio Nacional Forestal y de Fauna Silvestre) the National Forestry and Wildlife Authority working under the ministry of agriculture and irrigation (MINAGRI - Ministerio de Agricultura y Riego) is responsible for the sustainable management of forests and wildlife resources in the country.

On the 30th of September 2015 a new Forestry law (No. 29763) including its four related regulations came into force. Forest management legislation has changed considerably by this law. Besides adjustment of the old law, new regulations for management of forest plantations and agroforestry systems were added, as well as regulations for the management of forests belonging to the territories of indigenous and rural communities. 

By 2019 sectorial functions of SERFOR have been decentralized to regional forestry and wildlife offices (ARFFS - Autoridad Regional Forestal y de Fauna Silvestre) in the 9 Peruvian regions San Martín, Loreto, Ucayali, Madre de Dios, Amazonas, La Libertad, Tumbes, Ayacucho y Huánuco. ARFFS is now the planning and controlling authority of forest and wildlife resources in their jurisdiction. In the remaining 16 regions local SERFOR offices remain active (ATFFS-Administraciones Técnicas Forestal y de Fauna Silvestre).

SERFOR is developing the SNIFFS (National Forestry and Wildlife Information System). This system is being implemented step by step and is meant to provide resources and information to enhance better decision making by national and regional public authorities, by the private sector, and by civil society organizations related to forestry and wildlife activities. The SNIFFS systems is composed of 6 modules and 4 operational components of which the MC-SNIFFS module covers all relevant issues around control of forest management including legal origin of harvested timber. This module will be fully operational by 2021. (See also section below: national action on timber legality). 

The independent state agency responsible for the supervision of the correct implementation of the management of natural resources and wildlife is OSINFOR (Organismo de Supervisión de los Recursos Forestales y de Fauna Silvestre). This agency indirectly also supervises the functioning of the ARFFS and ATFFS.

Legal rights to harvest

All natural forest in the country has been grouped according to a national forest land use classification. Timber harvesting rights are granted for permanent production forests on public domain through a forest concessions system, and for private or community forest holdings through harvesting permits or harvesting authorizations.

Forest concessions are issued for a 40 years period (renewable) through a tender procedure. Harvesting permits and authorizations are issued on a one to 5 year basis, both upon request.

Concessionaires are required to develop and implement a General Forest Management Plan (Plan General de Manejo Forestal: PGMF) which needs to be approved by the ARFFS. The PGMF provides the overall framework for strategic planning for the duration of the concession. A five year implementation and business plan completes the document.

ARFFS is the regional authority granting concessions and approving forest management plans, permits and authorizations for timber harvesting and authorizations for forest conversion (forest clearing). ARFFS nowadays is usually located in the office of ARA (Regional Environment Authority) or GERFOR (Regional Forest and Wildlife Development office).

Since 2017 and on behalf of the environmental ministry, FEMA (Fiscaliá Especializada en Materia Ambiental) operates at the regional level as the inspection and controlling authority for environmental crime and timber legality matters, say as the local “forest police”.

Taxes and fees

Harvesting fees for timber concessions are paid annually based on both total size of the forest concession and actual timber volume harvested. For harvesting permits and harvesting authorizations, where less volume is harvested special rates apply. Timber exporting companies can receive an incentive of 4% of the timber value according to the “draw back” system.

In January 2019, local newspapers further reported that the PNG Government was working on a proposed law that would put a tax on logging companies that repeatedly report losses, and for that reason are exempt from income taxes. No official confirmation of this has yet been found.

Timber harvesting activities

For planning purposes a timber concession is normally sub-divided into 20 harvesting units in line with a 20 year rotation system. These units can be utilized for logging during any one year and are known as an Annual Cutting Area (in Spanish: Parcela de Corta Anual - PCA). If a timber concession measures 20.000 hectares, one PCA is 1.000 hectares. This PCA may yield a forest company 5.000 m3 round wood (per year) if the annual allowable cut (AAC) is defined at 5 m3 per hectare.

The concessionaire must submit an Operational Plan (Plan Operativo - PO), covering the PCA, for review and approval by ARFFS. This plan specifies the details of the annual harvest and includes a species and volume list and a map with the location of trees to be extracted, based on the forest inventory and forest census. As of March 2, 2020 forest concessionaires are obliged to keep an online Registry of Forest Operations and Timber Harvesting (Libro de Operaciones de los Titulos Habilitantes para Aprovechamiento Forestal Maderable) documenting the details of log operations (in 6 steps) from tree felling to final transport of logs form the forest. This document is the start of a nationwide online timber traceability system to be centrally managed and fully operational by 2021 which will enhance verification of legal origin. Software used by many concessionaires for this purpose is called DataBosque which is available free.

The Administrative Resolution (Resolución Administrativa or Resolución Jefatural) is the only official document of approval of the operational plan by ARFFS.

Due to technical and climate reasons normally not all allowable cut is harvested from the PCA in one year. In this case the forest company may “re-enter”, continue their operations, in the PCA in the next year in line with what is stated in the PO.

Post- harvest field inspections of selected timber concessions is implemented by OSINFOR and is carried out in order to check whether the transported and sold timber really originated from the annual cutting area as was stated in the PO, thus whether the concessionaire has acted in a legal and responsible fashion.

OSINFOR publishes the results of these supervision inspections on their website. These documents are made available to the public through the SIGO-Observatory (see also section Key Documents). Annual cutting areas with no observation appear in the SIGO-Green section and this timber can be procured without major risk of illegality. Instead timber from annual cutting areas with observations appear in the SIGO-Red section. Procuring timber from these areas implies risks of illegality.

It should be mentioned that OSINFORs supervisions cannot cover all concessions in time before the end of the harvesting year. In order to avoid legality issues, some timber exporters that manage timber concessions request OSINFOR to implement a post-harvest, but pre-transport inspection (forest to plant) of their PCA. In this way the timber exporter can always present a SIGO-green declaration to its client, if asked for.

Peruvian law requires forest companies to provide personal safety equipment to employees working in the forest. Employees with a permanent contract should receive minimum wage and have a health insurance.

Third parties’ rights

Forest concession in Peru have been planned in the past at reasonable distances from indigenous or rural communities. During the last decade more and more indigenous communities have gained land titles for their ancestral lands. In some casees this has led to an overlap in land titles with production foreset issued as timber concessions, which subsequentially leads to legal cases. Only FSC certified forest companies develop a protocol on management of possible future conflicts with indigenous and/or neighbouring communities.

Trade and transport

Each time a concessionaire removes timber from his concession, it must be accompanied by a document known as the Forest Transport Permit (Guía de Transporte Forestal - GTF) accompanied by a Log List (Lista de trozas) specifying place of origin, owner, destination, transporter and finally number, species and volume of the logs, all in one single document. (See section on Key Documents).

Forest Transport Permits are prepared by concessionaires on official formats provided though a web application.  Since 2019 both local forest authorities as well as forest regents in the country are being trained to use this application. Only registered Forest Transport Permits (on-line approval by the regional forest authority) are valid. At checkpoints police and forest authorities will verify these documents and check whether its content coincides with the load or shipment. The use of mobile QR code and Bar code scanners facilitates rapid processing at these checkpoints.

Through the information from the GTF, the ARFFS monitors the cumulative volumes of timber extracted from a concession in a document known as the Extraction Balance (Balance de Extracción). Any excess timber harvested or deviations in timber species will be noted and immediately fined.

Sawing mills receiving the timber need to record their inputs and outputs in an online Timber Processing Operations Registry (Libro de Operaciones de Transformación Primaria de Productos y Subproductos Forestales Maderables) as of august 2020. A batch of their outputs is transported again accompanied by a GTF indicating origin, destination and product volumes. This processing facility need to be legally established, which is demonstrated by an authorization of establishment as processing plant (Autorización para establecimiento de plantas de transformación).

Facilities storing and commercializing processed timber afterwards need also to be legally registered, which can be demonstrated with an Autorización para funcionamiento de depósito y establecimiento commercial issued by ARFFS.

Timber exporters need to comply with a set of rules and need to obtain a number of documents and which will be issued by various authorities. See the key documents section for more details on export requirements.