WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) strongly supports recent actions by Peruvian officials to conduct enforcement initiatives against illegal timber operators. In addition, EIA is pleased that Peru’s international trading partners are expressing heightened concern and supporting Peru’s still nascent efforts to actively combat illegalities and protect Amazonian forests. After many reports of illegalities in Peruvian timber exports, and with Inversiones La Oroza as one of the companies repeatedly named, EIA welcomes today’s announcement that the United States will seek verifications of legality for this company’s exports under the U.S.-Peru FTA.
EIA requested such verifications under the U.S.-Peru FTA in its April 2012 petition, which connected Peruvian exporters with timber sourced from concessions with documented illegalities. The same owners and investors from La Oroza and other companies named in the 2012 petition to USTR have continued these same harvest and export schemes without any consequences until late last year. This verification action should build upon and support years of supervisory work by the Peruvian Forest Oversight Body, OSINFOR, and actions over the past two years by the Peruvian Customs and Tax Authority, SUNAT, and the Peruvian Environmental Prosecutor’s office, FEMA, (at times in collaboration with Interpol, the United States and authorities of other governments) to seize illegal timber and enforce rule of law.
“It is incredibly important for Peru’s forest sector, for those that depend upon the forests and for those that struggle to run legal timber operations in the middle of widespread illegality, as well as for importers and consumers who do not wish to deal in illegal timber, that full support is given to the Peruvian oversight, monitoring and enforcement agencies to ensure that they can successfully prosecute the illegal trade networks,” said Julia Urrunaga, EIA’s Peru Programs Director. “This request is a good step, but given the current situation, it is important that everyone be verified, not just La Oroza.” It is equally important that these newly requested verifications are conducted properly, following due process according to the Peruvian laws and regulations. The verifications must be undertaken in such a way that they do not inadvertently interfere with ongoing administrative and legal processes in Peru related to the shipments in question.
With a forestry sector that has been well known for illegal logging levels exceeding 80 percent, Peru now stands, in this moment, on the threshold of real and concrete change. We support these initiatives to stop operators who have long profited from stolen timber at the expense of the Peruvian people and their natural heritage.