Stanford, CAA new regional study shows that land-use policies in Peru have been key to tempering rain forest degradation and destruction in that country. Scientists at the Carnegie Institutions Department of Global Ecology led an international effort to analyze seven years of high-resolution satellite data covering most (79%) of the Peruvian Amazon for their findings. The work is published in the August 9, 2007, on-line edition of Science Express.
The scientists found that the governments program of designating specific regions for legal logging, combined with protection of other forests, and the establishment of territories for indigenous peoples helped keep large-scale rain forest damage in check between the years 1999 and 2005. However, the research also showed an increase in forest disturbance over the last couple of years of the study, primarily in two areas of the jungle where the forests are accessible by roads.
We found that only 1 to 2 % of this disturbance in Peru happened in natural protected areas, noted lead author Paulo Oliveira. However, there was substantial forest disturbance adjacent to areas set aside for legal logging operations. This leakage of human activity outside of logging concessions is a concern.
Peru has about 255,000 square miles of tropical forestsan area a little larger than France. In 2001, the Peruvian government placed 31% of the managed forests into permanent resource production. By 2005, a region about the size of Honduras (about 40,000 sq. miles)was put into long-term commercial timber production. In recent years, the rain forests have been experiencing increased human impacts, as they have in neighboring Amazon countries, but the extent of the damage over the region has not been thoroughly assessed using high spatial resolution satellite data until this study.