US demand for mahogany fuels illegal logging in Peru

By agency reporter
July 13, 2010

Illegal mahogany loggers are plundering the land of uncontacted Indians in the depths of the Peruvian Amazon, according to a new report by the Upper Amazon Conservancy (UAC).

The report says the logging “provides evidence that Peru is failing to uphold the environmental and forestry obligations of its 2009 Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the US” because “more than 80 per cent of Peru’s mahogany [is] exported to the United States”.

UAC’s report has been released just a month after the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton travelled to Peru to meet President Alan Garcia and claimed, “The United States and Peru are working together to protect the environment”.

The report also suggests that loggers trick Peruvian and US authorities into believing the mahogany has been legally sourced. The logging “will continue until the US government unilaterally rejects questionable Peruvian mahogany”, it says.

The report includes photos of a logging camp and cut mahogany in the Murunahua Reserve in south-east Peru, which is supposedly set aside for uncontacted Indians’ sole use. It says that logging is “widespread” in the reserve, and that a “vast network of logging roads” used by “over a dozen tractors” connects the reserve to a major Amazonian tributary.

The uncontacted tribes in the reserve “lack natural defences against diseases brought from outsiders and are threatened by any type of contact”, suggests the report. It also insists that the logging violates the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which aims to protect mahogany.

The Murunahua Reserve was recently made off-limits to oil and gas companies because of the threat exploration would pose to the uncontacted Indians living there.

In response to the report, the Director of Survival International, Stephen Corry, said ‘It would be a tragedy for US citizens to continue buying Peruvian mahogany if it puts the survival of uncontacted Indians at risk”.


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