Peru's Regional Governments on Amazon Conservation
With Peru working toward decentralization, Peru's regional governments will eventually be afforded the tools to bolster conservation efforts in their respective regions. This is good news for Amazon tour operators such as Rainforest Cruises, since the maintenance of unique areas, such as the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, is of the utmost importance for the future of the Amazon River Cruise industry.
Iquitos is surrounded by thousands of miles of pristine Amazon Rainforest, but illegal logging, mining, and other extractive business threaten the forests.
Article by: Morten Bruun Jensen
Not long ago, the Amazon was named one of New Seven Natural Wonder of the World. I sat down with Yvan Vasquez, the regional president of Loreto, to talk about the recognition and what it means for his government.
Do you have a strategy to promote the Amazon, and the river specifically?
In reality, the Amazon already had an international reputation, and with this accomplishment, its tourism possibilities are further reinforced.
There was already an original plan to strengthen the conditions for tourism. Now with this recognition as a natural wonder, we are constantly meeting with all of the sectors to talk about the issue of security, improving the service throughout the whole chain of the tourism industry, and also in a uniform marketing strategy that fundamentally promotes the Amazon River.
Around the river, are all of the other complements: the natural resources like the reserves, the indigenous communities, the lakes for sport fishing, the shamanism and ayahuasca, scientific investigation, et cetera.
Speaking of that, have you planned to strengthen this area of environmental sustainability? To show the tourists who are coming…
Of course. There are plenty of legal norms in Peru. The issue is that they must be applied. Peru is in the midst of a process of decentralization. Before, everything came from Lima, but decentralization started three years ago. This process still is not very strong.
But now, at least, in the regional government we have some tools that allow us to control the illegality in the management of our forests, and allow us to strengthen programs like the regional conservation areas, the direct control of illegal land clearing…
Though we still lack a budget to implement these laws, we are working hard on the issue. We are the first region to set a regional law which drastically regulates the intervention of man in the headwaters, since the headwaters are the mother of our forest, our rivers, our food.
Does this mean that you must speak with neighboring countries?
Neighboring countries and regions. For example, right now we have a problem which we must deal with drastically, which is the presence of illegal gold dredges. Or sometimes they get licenses in Lima, without our authorization, saying that they will remove sand from the river, but actually they take gold.
This is happening near the border with Ucayali, in the south of Loreto. From Madre de Dios, because of the pressure the government crackdown is applying, they are coming to our area.
This is dangerous. Drastic measures must be taken, but we don’t have the tools to act, neither logistically nor economically. The government must help us.