Critical Need for Sustainable Forest Management Training in PeruWhen it comes to sustainable forestry, the country of Peru is at a critical crossroads. On a trip to that country this spring, I met with government, industry and conservation officials regarding a proposed Spanish-language training center for their region. The training center, which would be established and operated by the Tropical Forest Foundation (TFF), would teach local Peruvian companies and communities the principles of sustainable forestry to help them better manage their forest resources.Everywhere I went, I heard strong support — firsthand — for building capacity for sustainable forest management.

Why? For one, the country is a significant exporter of mahogany, which is monitored closely for its environmental sensitivities. Two, timber exports are growing at a rate of 25 percent each year; China is the largest export market. And finally, the demand for exports challenges Peru’s current rate of deforestation, which is among the lowest in the region. Historically, more deforestation is caused by subsistence farming by migrating farmers. However, deforestation and forest degradation in Peru is increasingly the result of commercial agriculture, mineral mining, gas and oil operations, major road construction, and poor or illegal logging by untrained people.

That’s why TFF has launched a fund-raising campaign to accelerate the development of the Peru training center. Through a sustainable forest management (SFM) training center, Peruvians can learn how to meet timber demands by managing and harvesting their forest resources at a level that is appropriate for the forests. Successful SFM training will not only improve the ecological integrity of the forests, but will also benefit the communities whose local economies depend on their resources. While the long-term resources required to support the Peru training center are $4 million in cash and $500,000 in in-kind support over five years, the short-term fund-raising goal of $100,000 in seed money will enable TFF to continue our momentum in establishing the center.

My recent journey to Peru followed the successful assessment and pilot-training sessions conducted last year, which verified the need for implementation of SFM practices in the country. Among those trained in controlled and directional felling, road planning and construction during the pilot sessions were employees of timber company Grupo Bozovich. In past visits, I walked the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified forests managed by Grupo Bozovich and heard the company’s leadership explain their desire to lead the entire Peruvian wood industry to sustainable management. Grupo Bozovich has, in fact, agreed to host the training center.

TFF has already established similar training centers in Brazil, Guyana, Gabon and Indonesia. While there are differences in each region where TFF works, our practices are easily adapted to be fully relevant to the industry in Peru. Our training programs will focus on the companies and communities that work in the Peruvian Amazon, the Peruvian and regional government officials, and university faculty and students. The people of Peru understand that TFF’s training will benefit their communities, economies and environment – they are ready for TFF to begin training as soon as possible.

We need to maintain our momentum. We need to make immediate progress before government leaders, interests, and priorities change .Click here to learn more about the Peru Campaign and find out how to donate to our cause.

Bob Johnston is Executive Director of the Tropical Forest Foundation (TFF), an international, non-profit, educational institution committed to advancing environmental stewardship, economic prosperity, and social responsibility through sustainable forest management (SFM). To learn more about the Tropical Forest Foundation, visit tropicalforestfoundation.org.

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