It is the process of transition from a nationally-centralized model of forestry resource governance established in Law N° 27308, The Forest and Wildlife Law of 2000, to a new model in line with the decentralization process that the State is currently undergoing, commitments under the Trade Promotion Agreement signed with the United States and Agreements between the Government and the associations representing the Indigenous Peoples of Amazonia.
Concepts such as ecosystemic approach, sustainability, interculturality, good governance, decentralization, participation, transparency and accountability have become key drivers in debates arising from this process of change. This type of change, evident in the legislation, may also represent significant change to the institutional model of the forest sector.
The abolition of INRENA (National Institute for Natural Resources), the creation of a new Ministry for the Environment, the resurgence of OSINFOR (a forestry supervisory agency) and the transfer of powers to the Regional Governments, all mean that the institutional nature of the forest sector has to be re-thought insofar as it was previously centred solely on the National Government through the Ministry of Agriculture. Likewise, the Indigenous Peoples, after their protest action in 2008 and 2009, have become a key interlocutor when it comes to taking any decision which may affect them. The existence of international free trade treaties covering forestry has led other sectors, such as the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism, to take an interest in the sector and even to become active in promoting this change. In this context, the Report Card offers an important opportunity to assess current conditions for transparency and participation in the forest sector.
Transparency and participation are key factors in the implementation of an effective system of good forest governance. This is not solely due to a concern for equity and justice; genuine participation by civil society can improve the quality of the decision-making process, increase the legitimacy in the public eye of the decisions taken and improve public perception of government action. Furthermore, if transparency and participation do not form part of the legislative process, there may be considerable costs in terms of time and resources, as can be seen by the repeal of the Peruvian Forestry Laws and the Columbian Forestry Law on the grounds that they did not meet the right to free, prior and informed consultation enjoyed by the Indigenous Peoples.
Our analysis of a number of aspects of transparency and participation gives us immediate insight into the current situation with respect to freedom of information, transparency and participation. It provides an account in general and in particular of the forest legal framework, the granting of forest concessions, and the creation of spaces for participation, amongst other issues. In this way it allows us to identify areas where progress has been made, and also those where further work is needed to increase transparency and participation.
Peru has a legal framework for transparency and freedom of information which requires public institutions to take a series of measures to enable citizens to exercise their constitutional right to access information. At the same time, the Peruvian legal framework provides private individuals with the procedures they need to ensure that their rights to access information are honoured. In line with this, public institutions are required to provide transparency portals where citizens can find information, particularly contractual and financial information, about public bodies. Notwithstanding, these portals frequently contain information that is incomplete, not fully up to date, or confused. Neither there are defined provisions for ensuring fiscal accountability, nor systems for citizens' oversight and vigilance. Such processes would allow citizens to exercise efficient social control. In general terms, while admittedly there is considerable progress in the legislative provisions relating to access to information, this in itself is insufficient because it is not fully implemented either because civil servants and officials and the citizens themselves are unaware of it, or because they choose not to avail themselves of it.
From the second half of 2009, as a consequence of the tragic events of Bagua (5 June 2009), both the decision-making processes and the definition of the new forest policy and legislation have become more transparent and participatory that those implemented by the State in 2008, which triggered a rejection by almost every actor in the forest sector, precisely on account of their lack of participation and transparency. This can be seen primarily in the establishment of a National Coordination Group for the Development of Amazonian Peoples and the National Consultation on forest policy and updating the Forest and Wildlife Law through the setting up of national and regional forums to put forward and debate proposals.
In spite of the progress which has been made, there is still a need for participatory spaces to facilitate the monitoring of the implementation of the Forest Annex of the Trade Promotion Agreement between Peru and the United States, and to ensure transparency in processes such as the establishment of a national quota for the export of mahogany. The impacts generated by other sectors on the forest also remain a considerable challenge. Decisions relating to mining, hydrocarbons, agro-industry, the building of roads and other types of infrastructure, continue to be taken with no regard to the forest sector despite the enormous impact they have, with the result that there is little or no opportunity to anticipate their cumulative and combined effects.
With the abolition of INRENA and the transfer of its functions to the General Office for Forest and Wildlife and the Regional Governments, the important information that that institution made available to the public through its on-line Portal (complete legal framework, information on concessions granted, statistics for the sector, etc.) has disappeared and none of the current forest authorities has restored the information for the benefit of the public. Thus, at the present time, there is no complete compendium of the forest legislation and regulation on line, to the serious disadvantage of the public and even of the public servants themselves.
This analysis has also enabled us to show the almost total lack of provisions for participation, transparency and accountability in the processes of granting forest concessions, and especially once they have been granted. This is an area where work is urgently needed. For, while there are a number of provisions which allow for a certain degree of transparency during the process of granting the concessions, once these have been granted there is virtually no information about what happens in the areas concerned, which effectively restricts the right of the public to monitor compliance with the forest legislation and contracts.
The process of transition that the forest sector in Peru is currently going through provides an ideal opportunity not only to implement provisions for participation in and transparency of the drawing up of a new forest policy and legislation. It also, through these provisions, facilitates the institutionalisation of participation, transparency and fiscal accountability in a new context where decentralization and the recognition of interculturality are being introduced, and where private and public sector actors are demanding greater recognition of their central role in the good governance of the extremely complex forest sector.