The Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) published the investigation titled Authorized to Steal: Organized Crime Networks Launder Illegal Timber from the Peruvian Amazon where identifies a series of officials from the forestry sector that allowed the laundering of illegal wood from the Peruvian Amazon. Also, the report reveals the names of each of those responsible for the processes throughout the supply chain of forest products, from the analysis of 1024 Forest Transport Permits (GTF, by its initials in Spanish), corresponding to the months of June, July and August of 2017.
Servindi, july 18, 2019.- A new research from the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) reveals a group of forest sector officials who systematically allowed the bleaching of illegal wood from the Peruvian Amazon.
It is about the research titled Authorized to Steal: Organized Crime Networks Launder Illegal Timber from the Peruvian Amazon that describes the way forest contracts are made, Forest Management Plans (PMF, by its initials in Spanish) and Forest Transport Permits (GTF, by its initials in Spanish) to give the appearance of legality to forest products illegally extracted.
The official documents, according to the study, are granted by the officials in the offices of the Regional Forestry and Wildlife Authority (ARFFS, by its initials in Spanish) in the departments of Loreto and Ucayali.
For the research, CIEL analyzed 1024 Forestry Transport Permits corresponding to the months of June, July and August of 2017 that were granted by different ARFFS.
In them, 250 forestry contracts were identified, where forest permits in native communities and timber forest concessions are the most used contracts. There were also 196 FMPs that endorsed the transportation and commercialization of the declared forest product.
However, the study reveals, that between 35 and 46 percent of the PMFs of those contracts were not reviewed by the Resources and Wildlife Monitoring Agency (OSINFOR, by its initials in Spanish). The number of the resolution approved by each FMP was also not recorded.
Also, CIEL determined that 51 percent of Forest Management Plans for permits in private lands and 30 percent in local forests were not reported to OSINFOR.
The research determined that the departments of Ucayali and Loreto concentrate 92 percent of the wood that was transported and commercialized with the endorsement of the evaluated GTFs.
“Therefore, these two regions serve as a focal point for identifying how organized crime rings launder illegally sourced timber”, says the study.
Considering that the legality of a product is guaranteed by the supervision of OSINFOR, CIEL noted that of the GTFs evaluated for the report, only 44 percent protected by the FMPs were supervised. Of the other 48 percent, its condition is unknown.
This, according to the study, is due to the fact that the forest management instruments were not reported to OSINFOR, the impossibility to identify if the FMP was supervised since the GTF does not indicate the number of the resolution or, simply, the FMPs were not supervised.
Likewise, it was found that 8 percent represents forest plantations where OSINFOR has no powers to supervise or supervise. Furthermore, despite the fact that the norm that orders the ARFFS to send to OSINFOR the FMPs up to 15 business days after its granting, it is not fulfilled.
Irregularity in supervised GTFs
Of the total Forestry Transport Permits analyzed by the study and which were supervised by OSINFOR, according to the Information Management System of OSINFOR (SIGO, by its initial in Spanish), 58 percent are within the "red list".
This is due to the fact that during field supervision “serious irregularities were detected, including falsified information and logging in unauthorized areas. These Forest Management Plans were presumably used to launder illegal timber”.
For its part, for a Forest Management Plan to be on the "green list" it is required “tolerable or no risk of illegality”.
From the analysis carried out by CIEL, 75 and 26 percent of the wood that comes from Loreto and Ucayali, respectively, are on the "red list".
“Though Ucayali exhibits a lower red-list rate than Loreto, reports from recent years note that forest loss in Ucayali is accelerating due to changes in land use”, warns the study.
In this sense, it is suspected that “illegally sourced timber from these areas is being laundered primarily through contracts and Forest Management Plans from the Loreto region”.
Start of the laundering chain
The research identified that the laundering of the illegal origin wood begins in the creation, filing and implementation of Forest Management Plans (PMF), a charge of the forestry regents, “responsible for guaranteeing forest resources’ sustainability”.
In this sense, when reviewing the administrative files generated by OSINFOR, CIEL discovered that 13 forest regents elaborated and subscribed PMFs with false information, specifically with nonexistent trees greater than 40 percent.
“This report does not consider 40 percent an inadvertent mistake or caused by human error. Forest Management Plans in which over 40 percent of the trees do not exist facilitate the issuance of Forest Transport Permits for the purpose of laundering illegal timber”, clarifies the report.
Throughout Peru, only eight forestry regents were suspended. In addition, the analysis of CIEL shows that Hugo Paima Ríos is one of the regents that presented the highest number of PMF in the "red list" and with Administrative Sanctions Procedure (PAS, by its initial in Spanish) started by the National Forestry and Wildlife Service (Serfor).
Other regents who created and subscribed PMFs with nonexistent trees are also Roberto Carlos Balseca, Enrique Montes Salazar, Lee Marlon Liclan, Luis Alberto Morey Flores, Manuel Saboya del Castillo, Roldan Pinedo Ríos, Laster Isminio Rodriguez, Carlo Nino Vela Gonza, Andrés Tello Mendiola, Elías Pezo Mejía, José Luis Orbe Iñapi and Henry Ruiz Fernández.
Simulate existence of tres
To verify the legal origin of the forest products, the verification of the trees in the field is carried out, as declared by the holder of the forestry contract and the forestry regent.
For CIEL, this point of the chain is crucial because it is where the real existence of the trees that were declared in the PMF presented to the Regional Forestry and Wildlife Authority is determined.
“Verifying the existence of the declared trees in the forest would contribute to a significant decrease in the rate of illegal timber laundering in Peru”, warns the research.
However, the analysis of the investigation determined that, between June and August of 2017, they were considered PMFs “in which over 40 percent of the listed trees did not exist in the field”.
Also, at this stage of the supply chain, there were detected “eight professionals who presented reports indicating that they went into the forest and visually inspected the PMFs sites to verify forest inventories”.
Of them, Carlos Eduardo Shapiama de Castillo, Julio Fachin Navarro, Jorge Luis Galindo Vela and Felipe Ramiro Díaz Collantes are registered at the Peru's Registry of Engineers (CIP). While Llon Max Armas Vela, Juan Arirama Ijuma, Percy Paull Ruiz Manuyama and Luis Gustavo García Tina are not in the CIP.
Inventory without trees
When analyzing the Forest Transport Permits, between June and August of 2017, the research determined that ten officials of the Regional Forestry and Wildlife Authority “promoted the execution and approval of contracts and Forest Management Plans with inventories in which over 40 percent of the trees did not exist”.
“A large amount of the timber possibly originated in areas of the Loreto and Ucayali regions that have lost forest cover in recent years due to deforestation”, says the study.
Among the officials of the Regional Forestry Authority who recommended the approval of the PMFs greater than 40% of non-existent trees are found Marcos Patricio Soares Torres, Carlos Roni Saldaña Shapiama, Alberto Edison Arévalo López, Rosaula Corina Torres Vargas Manuel Angel Fasabi Paima, Jorge del Águila Bocanegra y Nicky Sandoval Maceto, all of them signed up at CIP, as well as Érika Rossana Arce Núñez, who is not at CIP.
On the other hand, the officials of the Regional Forest Authority who approved the FMPs greater than 40% of non-existent trees are hon Lao Chung Amasifuén, Kathia Janeth García Ayachi, Winder Loja Yhuaraqui, Erik Manuel Ramírez Rodríguez, Ricardo Segundo Mayhuasque Hernández, Ernesto Gonzáles Dávila, Robert Nolorbe Tenazoa, Denilson Marcell del Castillo Mozombite, Carlos Augusto Román Vela y Mauricio Manuel Pereira Fachin, all of them signed up at CIP.
Also, the research identified Ernesto Gonzáles Dávila as responsible for signing the approval resolution of three forestry plans “in which 63, 72, and 100 percent of the claimed trees did not exist in the inventories”.
“Gonzales Dávila, a key official within the Regional Forestry and Wildlife Authority of Loreto, also played a role in the 2015 case in which a load of timber on the Yacu Kallpa vessel was seized at the Port of Houston, Texas, in the United States”, remembers CIEL.
At that time, Gonzales Dávila not only signed the PMFs that contained false information, but also sent a letter to the manager of the Empresa Forestal Corporación Industrial Forestal SAC, which was used as a defense argument in an attempt to recover the impounded wood.
Forest Transport Permits
The data analyzed for the research identified officials who exchanged and signed the Forest Transport Permits, as well as their corresponding offices.
In this sense, of the 1024 GTF analyzed, Leydi Noelia Campos Martín of the Forestry and Wildlife Administration Office (DGFFS) of Pucallpa signed and exchanged about 59 percent.
For his part, Víctor Javier Vidalon Ríos, also of the DGFFS of Pucallpa, granted and signed 22 percent, while Francisco da Silva Chosna, of the DGFFS of Aguaytía, did the same with the 15 percent of GTF evaluated for the report.
“These professionals had the capacity to issue alerts about GTF requests, thus preventing timber from redlisted forest contracts and Forest Management Plans from being transported”, clarifies the report.
After the analysis of the documents and the main findings, CIEL says that the authorities have "numerous opportunities" to start to “transform and improve this situation” since the processes have moments for “verifying the accuracy and validity of Forest Management Plans to ensure that forest products are legally sourced”.
“Nevertheless, all too frequently, these steps are used to legitimize illegal forest products rather than halt an illegal laundering process already underway”, warns.
It also suggests that the work of OSINFOR should be strengthened, “as well as and other key forestry and environmental agencies, such as SUNAT, specialized environmental prosecutors, and the Regional Forestry and Wildlife Authorities”.
“Illegal logging and its related trade, abuses, displacement of populations, and even deaths could be avoided through a consciousness shift in which a generalized understanding of the irreversible damages to people and the environment fed into a culture of accountability”, concludes.
Download the full research in the following link: