Write: Lelis Rivera Chávez, CEDIA anthropologist.
February passed and with it, the 37th anniversary of CEDIA. We spent this anniversary almost unnoticed between the comings and goings of the field teams dedicated to the implementation of various projects. We were totally immersed in the collection of information for the "Diagnosis of the Property, Tenure and Use of the Land and other Natural Resources of the Loreto region", which will allow, finally, to make known exactly how many, where and in what state are the native communities of Loreto. It will also allow us to know if they are healthy or pending sanitation. However, an anniversary is always a good time to stop and reflect on what we have done.
A few days ago, within the framework of the IV National Forum of Protected Natural Areas, I shared with great nostalgia our experience in land use planning and physical-legal sanitation that led us to promote the establishment of 9 Protected Natural Areas (ANP) together with the communities natives and other local populations that are now proud to have them and defend them from any threat. We were talking about the great seed function for biodiversity that these areas have to make life sustainable in the basins where they are located, benefiting local populations and also the planet. There is no doubt that this customary interest in caring for the forest as a source of supply of resources for life is now also shared by the State; for example, through the ANPs of the National System of Natural Areas Protected by the State - SINANPE.
The titling of communities and their community institutional strengthening, the establishment of ANPs with their respective documents and management instruments, and the declaration of reserves for the protection of Indigenous Peoples in Isolation and Initial Contact Situation - PIACI constitute, today, our best legacy. Its sustainability will depend on the strengthened local actors themselves, governing bodies and the public sector, which have the responsibility to guarantee it.
On this anniversary we would like to reflect on the importance of physical-legal sanitation of native communities and the strengthening of their capacities for the management of natural and cultural heritage. This analysis becomes more relevant when we realize that today, despite the significant gap in sanitation, native communities have been managing around 14 million hectares without any type of support or advice from the State.
Throughout our institutional life we have witnessed how the political ups and downs have given and taken priority to the indigenous issue in the Amazon. After 1978, no work with native communities has ever been programmed and budgeted ex officio. An example of this abandonment is that indigenous communities located in the oil heart of Loreto, despite having been impacted by oil activities for decades, just managed to get the State to recognize their territorial rights during the 2012-2017 period.
CEDIA in the Tigre-Corrientes; and the Project “4 basins of the PCM” in Morona, Pastaza, Marañon, Chambira, etc., have advanced in the sanitation of these communities by an agreement between the State and the communities affected by the impacts of the oil activity. All this happened only after many complaints from the indigenous peoples of the area.
This is not an isolated case, I do not know of any Regional Directorate of Agriculture (DRA) that has financial resources budgeted for the sanitation of native communities. This has been the case, at least, since the regional governments received the powers for the physical and legal sanitation of the native communities (2010).
Of the 1,500 titled native communities that are estimated to exist today, the 43% was created by the Peruvian State itself with its own resources and on its own initiative in the first 3 years after the Native Communities Law was implemented. Only the 8% has been titled, also with State resources, in the last 40 years. The remaining 49% have been cleaned up with the help of international cooperation.
As you all know, between 1999-2010 the physical-legal sanitation of native communities was paralyzed; During this period, everything was being prepared to dispose of the Amazon and promote investment in extractive activities. This was done without considering the customary rights of native communities; promoting the creation of Permanent Production Forests (BPP), as well as oil blocks and their concessions, which left the communities with virtually no future pending sanitation.
We see that a large part of the regulations issued to promote investment in the Amazon and that motivated the "Baguazo" They are the ones that have prevented the physical and legal sanitation of native and peasant communities from being carried out in the first 4 years after the powers were transferred to the GORE. The overlapping of communities with BPP paralyzed the beginning of the procedure, the norms of classification of lands by capacity of greater use and soil survey they were erroneously imposed on the titling process of native communities, based on the recognition of customary law.
Later it was shown that this situation only hindered the process of legalization of communal territories and, little by little, indigenous organizations and civil society have had to contribute to return the institutional memory to the DRA and the governing body of physical-legal sanitation, so that the procedure is lightened within the framework of the law.
To all this, we must recognize that the National Forest and Wildlife Service - SERFOR has not yet implemented any procedure to resize BPP for community titling purposes. His attitude has always been as evasive as he is irresponsible, making agreements that are never fulfilled or generating rules that cannot be implemented. We have spent 8 years trying to get SERFOR, as the governing body, to promote the granting of Concession Contracts for the Use of Forest Lands to the communities through regional bodies, as part of the procedure for the recognition of rights over communal territories. The same happens with the resizing of the BPP, which is not yet implemented through the competent bodies. This is a subject of its absolute competence; therefore, it must lead it, even when the bodies that implement it are the regional governments.
Throughout history this type of problem has been perceived more clearly. Everything makes us think that the country's forest heritage is not in the hands of the State, since it is not understood why the same State that recognizes property rights to native communities opposes granting them their territories, keeping them in captivity within the BPP since these were created; in addition, without any field study or consultation. On the other hand, it is not understood why the communal territories are not considered part of the forest heritage of Peru, if that is where the forest resources of the native communities are found, but unfortunately they cannot take advantage of them, even if they are their property. The law determines how to make a commercial use of forest resources in general.
In the next 3 years, the native communities of Peru will have around 20 million hectares of forests, relatively well preserved. The State has never invested in the institutional strengthening of the communities to improve the management of their territories and their cultural heritage. In a country concerned about investment, this is more than an oversight: it is a great irresponsibility, because we are leaving it to chance and the goodwill of civil society and international cooperation that this great heritage falls into the hands of enablers and traffickers who walk behind the communities.
We are at the right time to make a sustainable Amazon a reality; That is why we hope that the State, at its different levels, will see the communities as strategic allies in the proper management of the natural heritage. There are innumerable opportunities for resource management to create a diverse and sustainable industry in the Amazon; but we must direct public funds, international cooperation, conservation compensation, among others, to promote this objective.
 June 5, 2009
 Prepared to oversee the change of use in concessions, land sales and special awards.