Potential Contribution of Palm Oil and Cocoa Companies to Deforestation in the Amazon Forests of Peru

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Forest illustration. Photo by: Sawit Fest 2021 / Hasiholan Siahaan

PALMOILMAGAZINE, PERU – According to the latest report from the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), certain palm oil and cocoa companies operating in the Amazon region of Peru have systematically contributed to the establishment of new plantations, totaling at least 13,000 hectares (32,000 acres) between 2012 and 2021. These plantations have encroached upon forests in the country, particularly in Loreto and Ucayali.

The investigation, titled “Carving Up the Amazon,” alleges that deforestation has occurred without proper legal repercussions in Peru. It suggests that the country has inadequately managed forest resources, allowing companies to continue their operations despite violating laws.

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Shockingly, EIA reports that nearly 100% of deforestation in Ucayali and Loreto between 2012 and 2018 occurred without official permits, resulting in the loss of 2.7 million hectares (6.7 million acres) of forests in Peru over the past two decades.

Also Read: Ministry of Agriculture Presents Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil Practices at FONAP in Germany

EIA did identify six cases of illegal area certification, three cases of deforestation without permit, and two cases of human rights violation locally. The report meant the weak regulation in the country to get land use and the bad monitoring system delivered chances for the companies to purchased wide areas in Amazon and even cut off the forests illegally.

Program Manager EIA Latin America and one writer of the report, Chris Moye was sorry for the bad system. “We knew that the cases happen for more than one decade. What is shocking is that the systemic characteristic of the issue that took place, spread to executive and courts in Peru. Now, the legislative institution does too,” he said as Palmoilmagazine.com quoted from Mongabay, Saturday (17/2/2024).

In January, the Congress of Peru inaugurated Laws 31973, that remitted every illegal logging in villages or region for agricultural purposes. But many critics, civil society and indigenous people organization worried that the laws would trigger more deforestation, protect agrobusiness accountability in the future.

The prosecutor in Ministry of Environment, Peru, Julio Guzmán Mendoza told that the Laws 31973 would postpone the recovery of the broken forests which is the main function of environment laws in the country. “The ecologic damages are permanent and would could not recover the areas,” he said.

Some companies that have been substituted by others, in the investigation are Cacao del Perú Norte, Plantaciones de Loreto, Plantaciones de Marín, Plantaciones del Perú Este, Plantaciones de Loreto Este, Plantaciones de Inahuaya, Plantaciones de Lima, Cacao de la Amazonía, Plantaciones de Ucayali, dan Plantaciones de Pucallpa. Some of the companies have connection with “Melka Group,” a controversial wealthy business that EIA investigated in 2015.

Though the Government of Peru claimed that some of the forest cut happened for small scale – agricultural activities, agriculture industries are the big issues in the country. palm oil as one of national scale – commodity, also involved in the illegal deforestation.

Some palm oil production where illegal deforestation did happen, ended in multi-national companies, such as, Kellogg’s, Nestlé, Colgate, Belgium food group – Vandemoortele, and Spain vegetable oil company – LIPSA. This would raise trade issue with European Union that bans illegal import commodities in December 2024, as regulated in European Union Deforestation Regulation. (T2)

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