Indigenous organisations denounce initiative of Peruvian government to weaken their control of Communal Reserves

Indigenous organisations denounce initiative of Peruvian government to weaken their control of Communal Reserves

Indigenous organisations in Peru have exposed an initiative of the Peruvian protected areas authority (SERNANP) to modify the specific legal regime that regulates the governance and administration of Communal Reserves (RC) within Peru. They are demanding the immediate suspension of the process and their participation.

The 10 Communal Reserves in Peru cover over 2 million hectares of rainforest and are considered as part of the system of official protected areas. Nevertheless, unlike other protected areas, they are jointly managed by an indigenous management committee (ECA) elected by members of the relevant communities and SERNANP in recognition of the fact that they cover indigenous peoples’ traditional lands.

Indigenous organisations who represent communities have obtained copies of advanced drafts of the proposal which have been denounced by AIDESEP, the national indigenous organisation, because it threatens to weaken indigenous control while increasing the power of SERNANP’s administration resulting in the RCs being used for other interests and not those of our peoples’. This, they point out, is of critical importance given the increasing interest in the communal reserves not only for their oil and gas deposits but for the generation of carbon credits. AIDESEP point out that the draft includes several proposed modifications with severe implications including, amongst others, the following:

  • Weaken the control of the ECAs over who has access to and use of the natural resources within the Reserves.
  • Provide SERNANP with the discretion to remove the elected representatives of the ECA
  • Require the ECAs to rubber stamp the sale of ecosystem services such as carbon.

Despite the implications of these reforms, indigenous organisations that represent the communities whose ancestral lands are protected by the RCs have to date not been involved in these discussions. CARE, the Asháninka organisation who represent 10 communities whose lands lie within the Asháninka Communal Reserve and who played a key part not only in its creation but who developed its management plan with communities, have denounced the fact that they have not been permitted to participate and stated that:

‘We wholeheartedly reject the way in which they wish to promote a process that will directly affect our territory…and we demand the immediate suspension of this process until a new one can be started in which our organisation, in addition to those of the other river basins, can participate…’

Similarly, AIDESEP have denounced the fact that only some of the ECAs have participated in the process, alongside the exclusion of all representative indigenous organisations. They demand that SERNANP ‘desist from sowing division and conflict between certain ECAs and indigenous organisations that created the Reserves feeding relationships of patronage that cause conflict between brothers’.

They too demand an immediate suspension of the initiative.

To read CARE's statement (in Spanish only) click here.

For AIDESEP's statement (in Spanish only) click here.