A tropical rainforest covering more than 270,000 square miles, the Peruvian Amazon is an environmental treasure. Beneath the canopy of towering trees is a vast range of plant and animal species that makes Peru one of the most biologically diverse countries in the world. With this environmental wealth comes economic opportunity, from the communities that pursue forest-based livelihoods to feed their families to the local companies that log trees, contributing to the lucrative timber market.
But at the intersection of the Peruvian Amazon’s celebrated ecology and flourishing forest economy, a deforestation crisis looms. Today, the Peruvian Amazon has fewer trees to store carbon dioxide from our atmosphere and less capacity to support livelihoods that depend directly on the forests. Illicit forestry operations threaten the environmental and economic health of the forests, where illegal loggers once vied for prized woods like “red gold,” as mahogany is sometimes called. As reserves are depleted, these loggers seek out other species, further reducing the variety of trees in the forest. With as much as 80 percent of Peru’s timber illegally harvested, the Peruvian Amazon’s valuable natural resources are close to exhaustion. This makes forestry management and oversight more crucial than ever.
For forestry companies, conservationists, local communities, and the government of Peru, tracking the location and condition of trees in the rainforest lays the foundation for sustainable forestry management. Illegal loggers thrive on trees that are unregulated in the illicit journey from the soils of the Amazon to the lucrative timber market. Through the Environmental Management and Forest Governance Support Activity, also known as “Peru Forestry,” USAID and Chemonics are working to interrupt this path and improve the census method for trees by using the MaderApp.
MaderApp is a mobile application developed by Peru Bosques — meaning, “Peru Forestry”— to deliver forest census information only a few minutes after field collection. First, each tree is assigned a specific code. These individual, GPS-referenced trees are then registered through the MaderApp, which records their geographic coordinates and attributes in real-time, directly with the GPS. This information becomes input for the Control Module of the National Forestry and Wildlife Information System, known as the MC-SNIFFS, a national timber traceability system being developed by the government of Peru with support from Peru Bosques. With the information from MaderApp registered in this system, anyone who buys logs from a specific tree will know whether it was cut illegally.