On December 5, the Peruvian government unanimously passed a law prohibiting the manufacturing, importation, distribution, and consumption of single-use plastic bags. All single-use plastic bags, along with straws and other plastic products that cannot be recycled, will be phased out over the next three years. Peru joins more than 60 other countries that have imposed bans or taxes on single-use plastics. For the full story, see https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-peru-environment-plastic/peru-to-phas….
Three new frog species have been discovered in the montane forests and Andean grasslands of Peru’s Pui Pui Protected Forest. Rudolf von May, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Michigan and one of the authors of a paper describing the three new species, announced that there are many more species discoveries to be made in the region. Few biological surveys have been conducted in the Pui Pui Protected Forest in the decades since it was established in 1985.
In late October, nearly 300 leaders from indigenous tribes in the Amazon gathered in Lima, Peru to demand that governments respect their rights to land ownership and forest conservation. The issue of indigenous land rights has been a pertinent issue this past year, particularly after the Paris Agreement removed language enforcing the recognition of indigenous rights from the final text. Currently, only 21 countries have included recognition of indigenous rights and community-based land tenure in their national emissions reduction commitments.
Following interception of multiple shipments of illegal timber on their way to the United States, a report produced by Peruvian agencies and verified by the U.S. government found that 90% of the sampled timber was illegally harvested. U.S. officials and conservationists are hoping Peru’s new government will address the inadequate implementation and enforcement of conservation laws, issues found to be major contributors to the statistic. According to a U.S.
The World Bank’s International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) unanimously rejected New York-based Renco Group Inc.’s lawsuit against Peru for neglecting environmental cleanup around a smelter in La Oroya. The group filed the lawsuit in 2011 for $800 million, claiming that Peru did not clean the soil around La Oroya as was promised in their original purchasing agreement. The company additionally accused Peru of not taking responsibility for prior pollution claims tied to the smelter site.
Ollanta Humala, the President of Peru, declared a 20-day emergency in the Madre de Dios region in an attempt to curb mercury poisoning from illegal gold mining. Miners searching for gold illegally use mercury to separate rock from ore; they often handle the toxin with their bare hands, breathe it in when it is burned, and dump it into Peruvian rivers, destroying rainforest areas. The Madre de Dios region’s residents have dangerously high levels of mercury in their bodies. Indigenous and rural communities are most vulnerable to the toxins because they are subsistence fishers.
A joint action by Peruvian public prosecutor’s office and a specialized environmental police force arrested 19 members of a logging gang on April 22. Among those arrested were two police officers and two regional forestry officials, whose involvement still needs to be clarified. Nearly 70,000 Peruvian Sol (a little over $20,000) were seized in the joint action, along with two trucks and a trailer loaded with illegal timber. China, Mexico, and the United States are said to be the chief destinations for the illegal timber harvested by the gang.
On December 31, 2015, Peru’s Minister of Production passed a resolution that banned fishing of manta rays, among other stipulations. The resolution requires that mantas that are caught must be released immediately back into the ocean. The largest known populations of giant manta rays live in Peru and Ecuador. Ecuador began protecting manta rays in 2010, and Peru’s new ban adds to this protection. Other countries, including the Republic of Maldives, Mexico, and the Philippines, have passed regulations for manta ray protection.
On November 8, 2015, the Peruvian government declared the creation of the world’s newest national park: Sierra del Divisor. The creation of this national forest, which spans 1.3 million hectares (5,470 square miles), has been a struggle for local communities, scientists, and conservation groups for nearly a decade. The park is situated in eastern Peru along the Brazilian border. It is larger than Yellowstone National Park in the Northern United States and four times the size of California’s Yosemite National Park.
A regional court in Loreto, Peru, ruled in favor of a United Cacao subsidiary in a case concerning the company clearing almost 5,000 acres of Amazonian forest in the country's northeast. The case was brought by Peru's Forestry Department, which claimed the company needed the department's approval before clearing trees for a cacao plantation. Observers point to ambiguities in Peru's environmental laws that allowed the site to be classified as agricultural despite the presence of forest.