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Corruption, informality and power: Explaining the limits to institutional approaches for tackling illegal logging in Peru

Policies and strategies implemented to combat illegal logging in Peru appear to have had limited success. Addressing corruption in the forest sector requires an understanding of the role of political and informal power arrangements that shape individual and collective behaviours. Forest governance outcomes can only be strengthened by considering the networks, actors, powers, and interests that interact with wider conditions.

20 September 2021
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Main points

  • Recent years have seen many positive developments towards strengthening forest management institutions in Peru, yet reforms have not been able to fully control illegal logging.
  • Transport permits, part of a package of measures intended to strengthen institutional responses to illegal logging, are subject to corruption and have become one of the main mechanisms for laundering wood from prohibited areas.
  • In the Amazonian region of Ucayali, overlapping interests in the public sector and resulting informal power arrangements, combined with limited political representation, manifest in weak enforcement against illegal logging and in corruption cases in the forest sector. This helps us understand recent deforestation trends in this part of the country.
  • Both the formal and informal dimensions of institutions must be considered if we hope to understand why forest-related institutional reforms have had limited success. Measures aimed to address such structural factors at subnational levels could contribute to strengthening forest governance.

Cite this publication

Gianella, C.; Paredes, M.; Figueroa, L.; (2021) Corruption, informality and power: Explaining the limits to institutional approaches for tackling illegal logging in Peru. Bergen: U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Chr. Michelsen Institute (U4 Issue 2021:11)

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About the authors

Camila Gianella

Camila Gianella is a social psychologist with a PhD from the University of Bergen, Norway. She is a researcher at Chr. Michelsen Institute and Global Fellow at the Centre on Law and Social Transformation, and her research focus is on rights-based approaches to health. Gianella is also the lead researcher on the Peru component of the Targeting Natural Resource Corruption Project.

Maritza Paredes

Maritza Paredes is an Associate Professor and Director of the Doctorate Program in Sociology at PUCP in Lima. She specialises in political and environmental sociology. Her research focuses on the expansion of extractive capitalism and its impacts on state capacity, social mobilisation, and the politics of indigenous peoples. She obtained a Ph.D. in International Development from the University of Oxford in the UK, and a master's degree from Columbia University in New York.

Lorena Figueroa

Lorena Figueroa is a sociologist from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. She holds a bachelor's degree in social science, and is pursuing a master’s degree in Latin American studies at Leiden University in The Netherlands. Her research interests are political economy, rural development, and public policies.


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This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)