One of the principal objectives of the forest sector in Peru in recent years has been to achieve good forest governance; in other words, obtain effective and efficient management by public entities and social organisations. This supposes a state of law which operates fairly, with direct participation and transparency, in which all the stakeholders are aware of the responsibility they have in decision-making on all the activities in the forest sector, in trade, economic, social and environmental matters.
a. Regulatory instruments which facilitate availability of information to the public
In recent years - and it might be said since the outset of the project - there has been frequent mention of the words forest transparency by the various stakeholders and in the recently approved legislation and the new proposals being considered this year: these words constitute a principle of good forest governance and refer to the ability of those public organisations with responsibilities in the sector to generate and make available to any citizen relevant and timely information on the management of forest resources and conservation of forests.
Peru has a Law on Transparency and Access to Public Information, which came into force fully on 1 January 2003. As a result of the statements and annual reports previously drawn up by DAR to measure compliance with the requirements of the Law, it can be seen that, compared to previous years, the levels of transparency and access to information have increased slightly. In particular, Regional Governments have promoted measures for greater transparency within their institutions. However, there are still government bodies which do not even achieve 50% compliance in their levels of transparency (in terms of their websites). Furthermore, there are public bodies which do not publish all the information required by law, or publish it in an incomplete or outdated manner. In addition to this, the forest authority currently only publishes a Forest Yearbook with statistical information on the production, commercialisation and permits for timber and non-timber products; this is not sufficient, as there is a requirement for publication of an Annual Forest Report with analysis and management information.
On the other hand, progress can be seen in the responsiveness of public bodies to requests for information, although a large percentage of bodies do so outside the deadline established by the law. It should be stressed, however, that the majority of bodies are increasingly providing information of high quality, i.e. in accordance with the applications presented.
On this point, it is important to add that the new Forest and Wildlife Law No. 29763 establishes the creation of the National System of Forest and Wildlife Management (SINAFOR), which includes the key stakeholders in the forest resources and wildlife administration, and the associated instruments: forest inventories and an information system including a monitoring module. However, as part of the Participative and Decentralised Process for Strengthening of the Forest Sector (for which a Guide to Methodology was published in May 2012), a process of design and participative drafting of the SINAFOR proposal still needed to be implemented, which will last around four months and which had still not made any progress at the time of this assessment.
Although it is true to say that some progress, in many cases significant, has been reported, it is still a very slow process, and in some cases this appears to have stagnated completely. This may be because in practice there is no real monitoring of this topic by the State itself. The Congress of the Republic and the Office of the Auditor General of the Republic should take on a genuine commitment to monitor the public institutions in their actions on Transparency and Access to Information, and take the corresponding measures if there is a failure to comply with the law. It should also be mentioned that since 2008 the Public Ombudsman has been publishing reports and annual account on oversight of the Transparency Websites of the regional governments and provincial municipalities located in departmental capitals; in addition, in April this year this organisation proposed the creation of an Autonomous National Authority on Transparency which, if it comes into being, would be a significant step forward in implementing genuine oversight and monitoring of the public institutions in this field.
In the framework of the project, DAR has been promoting and bringing transparency and access to public information onto the national and regional agendas for the various stakeholders in the forest sector. Through the Special Learning Opportunities (SLO) carried out by the Regional AIDESEP Organisation in Ucayali (ORAU) and the Native Federation of the Madre de Dios River and its Tributaries (FENAMAD), the indigenous organisations were strengthened and their leaders given skills in transparency and forest governance matters. Similarly, the ProNature Ucayali institution used its SLO to strengthen the skills of the Ucayali Regional Government's Forest Authority in implementing a transparency website for forest information based on criteria for public and non-public information. Within the framework of the law, the result of this work is a Regional Forest Authority with the tools necessary to continue to be transparent.
b. Forest Legislation (and its relationship with international treaties, traditional rights and National Forest Policy)
In 2011 there were already important changes to, and inclusions in, national forest legislation, thanks to the approval of the National Anticorruption Plan for the Forest and Wildlife sector and promulgation of the Forest and Wildlife Law (Law No. 29763). The previous Forest Law (Law No. 27308) is still in force until there is a regulation to implement the new law. It should be emphasised that in February 2012 the participative and inclusive process for an agreed text for the Regulation for the Forest and Wildlife Law was begun through Ministerial Ruling No. 0048-2012-AG, which made the process of drawing up this regulation a priority; it must be carried out in a decentralised manner within the existing legal framework and before the deadline specified in the aforementioned Law, using the lessons learnt from previous processes as a reference.
The Forest Laws were approved and/or promulgated without the explicit existence of a National Forest Policy, which obviously could not have influenced their implementation; however, the recent Forest Law considers being followed-up in the form of a National Forest Policy. On this point - in the framework of the participative and decentralised process for strengthening of the forest sector - December 2012 has just seen the publication of a draft National Forest and Wildlife Policy, the text of which has been made available to the general public for dissemination and receipt of contributions. This process began on 6 December 2012 and will continue until 6 January 2013. It is important to highlight that this document will establish explicit policy on tenure and access to forest and wildlife resources, and will also indicate a guideline for incentives. Although it does not explicitly mention REDD+, additional documents reveal that financing opportunities are being sought via REDD+ mechanisms. Elsewhere, the National Forest Strategy, which was made official in 2004 as a precursor document to the National Forest Policy, needs to be adapted to the REDD+ topics, not only because this is a new and emerging topic, but also because it is linked to other sectors for management of natural resources.
Meanwhile, Peru has signed and ratified a number of free trade agreements and treaties. On this point, the Free Trade Agreement with the USA motivated the process of updating Forest Legislation, with the Peruvian State taking on a series of commitments in environmental management and in the forest sector, thus improving the legal trade in forest products. On the other hand, there is the Agreement with the European Union which was signed on 26 June 2012 and is due to come into force at the end of 2012, depending on approval in the respective parliaments. These agreements are designed to protect forest resources and respond to illegal logging and associated trade. Investigations have shown that illegal logging is still an important part of the trade in timber products and have placed in doubt the authorities' ability to monitor the sector. For this reason, if these agreements are to have a definitive effect, existing national regulations on transparency and citizen participation in the management of forest resources must be complied with, and compliance ensured. In turn, the mechanisms for monitoring timber products and for verifying the legality of their origin must be strengthened, otherwise all the stipulations will remain merely illustrative, with no real effectiveness.
Finally, the documents forming part of the legal framework and the implicit policy of the forest sector are drafted in Spanish, but have not been translated into other local languages, and are only accessible through publication in the Official Newspaper "El Peruano" (a newspaper which, though distributed nationwide, arrives with a few days' delay and in smaller quantities) and the websites of each institution linked to the forest sector; this situation means that access to information is limited for community populations, even more so because of the technicality and the volume of the material. It is worth mentioning also that the majority of these populations in their locality do not have an internet service, which also limits their access to the information.