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Deforestation & colonization of Indigenous Ashaninka Territory, Peru

The Ashaninka have been resisting the colonization of their territory for centuries but the rainforest frontier keeps moving forward. It was first for timber but it is also now for plantations.


The Ashaninka people are the largest indigenous group of the central Peruvian Amazon region. In the 1980s decade they suffered the impacts of the violent conflicts between the Shining Path (the rebel Maoist guerilla group Sendero Luminoso) and the governmental troops. It has been estimated that 10% of the Ashaninka population was killed due to these confrontations in which they were not involved. The Forestry Act was the subject of fierce protests during its discussion and approval. Still, it came into force. And in 2003, the first public auction of forest concessions were granted in the Ucayali region, located in the Central Forest in the Amazonian part of the eastern Andean foothills in Peru. This process, managed by the Amazonian Forest Consortium, completely ignored any prior consultation with the local indigenous peoples. Trees cutting in Ashaninka territory caused deforestation, forced displacement, deteriorated indigenous’ livelihoods as well as it was the main cause of the conflict and violence that spread through the region. In September 2014, four Ashaninka leaders were killed by illegal loggers. The murders remained unpunished. The AIDESEP continues denouncing the inadequacy between the State’s pretended good intentions as with the signature of an agreement with Norway and Germany in 2014 aiming to reduce deforestation and the actual national policies favoring the extension of plantations, as for instance of palm oil. The Ashaninka people are also endangered by other projects. In 2010, as the result of an energy agreement with Brazil, the Peruvian national government plans ahead the construction of two dams on the rivers Ene and Tambo. The woman Ruth Buendía Mestoquiari, President of CARE, received the Goldman Environmental Price in 2014 for her struggle and leadership. Another conflict description on the Atlas gives specific input about the Ashaninka peoples’ mobilization against the mega-dams. 

Basic Data
Name of conflict:Deforestation & colonization of Indigenous Ashaninka Territory, Peru
State or province:Atalaya Province (Ucayali Region)
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Logging and non timber extraction
Specific commodities:Cellulose
Project Details and Actors
Project details

In 2003, four Spanish-Peruvian companies were granted a 40 year concession for the exploitation of 40,000 hectares of forest. Soon after they made a consortium that allowed them to log more than 180,000 hectares of forest.

Project area:182414
Type of populationRural
Affected Population: 99,117
Start of the conflict:2000
Company names or state enterprises:Partes y Piezas SAC from Peru
SAC-Anaconda from Peru
SAFI Peru from Peru
SAC-Shihuahuaco from Peru
CFA from Spain
Relevant government actors:Instituto Nacional de Recursos Naturales (INRENA) - Peru, Government of Peru, Minitry of Economy and Finance - Peru
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:La Comunidad Asháninka Marankiari Bajo (CIAMB) - Peru, Organización Indígena de la Región Atalaya (OIRA) - Peru, Asociacion Interetnica de Desarrollo de la Selva Peruana (AIDESEP) - Peru, Forest People Programme - UK, World Movement for Tropical Forests
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of mobilization:Involvement of national and international NGOs
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Air pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Malnutrition, Deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Increase in violence and crime, Militarization and increased police presence
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Land demarcation
Strengthening of participation
Proposal and development of alternatives:The stop of the legal and illegal timber exploitation, the retrieve of the lands to their initial owners, and the restoration of the area. Granting the indigenous peoples with property title registration.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Timber exploitation and plantations' multiplication continues to be the main activity in the area and there is a high amount of illegal logging.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Forestry Law 27 308, July 2000

Article 80, 2004, of the World Rainforest Movement

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

La deforestacion evitada y los derechos de los Pueblos Indigenas y las comunidades locales. Forest People Programme, 2007
[click to view]

El trabajo forzoso en la extraccion de la madera en la Amazonia Peruana. Eduardo Bedoya, 2004.
[click to view]

Asuntos Indigenas 4/06, Explotacion Forestal y Pueblos Indgenas. Iwgia, 2006
[click to view]

Liberation Through Land Rights in the Peruvian Amazon, P. García Hierro, S. Hvalkof, A. Gray, IWGIA Document n.90, 1998
[click to view]

Peru - Declaration concerning the threat of the Pakitzapango Dam by the Ashaninka communities of the Ene Valley, Forest Peoples Programme, 26/04/2009
[click to view]

Los Ashaninka, Base de Datos de pueblos indigenas u originarios, Ministerio de Cultura del Peru
[click to view]

Haciendo visible lo invisible - Perspectivas indígenas sobre la deforestación en la Amazonía peruana, AIDESEP & Forest Peoples Programme, Noviembre 2014
[click to view]

Gobernanza Forestal y Derechos Indígenas: claves para el éxito de la nueva Alianza Forestal entre Perú, Alemania y Noruega, Comunicado de prensa, 23/09/2014
[click to view]

Indigenous peoples. Their forests, struggles and rights. World Rainforest Movement, 2005
[click to view]

Contrarrestar la explotación maderera es una de las preocupaciones asháninkas, Info Region, 25/10/2011
[click to view]

4 Asháninka assassinated in the community of Saweto – Ucayali, AIDESEP, 14/09/2014
[click to view]

The Goldman Envrironmental Price, Ruth Buendía, 2014
[click to view]

Caso de asesinato de Ashaninkas esta paralizado por falta de presupuesto, Diario16, 24/10/2014
[click to view]

Perú - Ministerio de Cultura
[click to view]

Qué se juega en el acuerdo energético Perú-Brasil, M. Salazar, IPS, 17/06/2010
[click to view]

Swissinfo - Humala crea Parque Nacional para protegerlo del narcotráfico y tala ilegal
[click to view]

CLAES, - El mayor decomiso de madera ilegal de la Amazonia peruana

Terra - Indígenas de Perú siguen amenazados por presuntos asesinos de sus líderes

23 ENE
[click to view]

Peru Promotes Oil Palm Expansion Despite Devastating Consequences for Indigenous Peoples & Amazon, EIA, 14/10/2015
[click to view]

PERU: Lideresa asháninka es elegida heroína ambiental a nivel mundial, 04/2014
[click to view]

La fiebre energética de Brasil inundará la selva peruana de megahidroeléctricas, El, 17/06/2010
[click to view]

Forest Governance and Indigenous Rights Key to Success of New Peru, Germany, Norway Partnership, EIA, 23/09/2014
[click to view]

Deforestation in Peru: Building a dramatic future in the Amazon and the Andean Region, Coha, 28/09/2015
[click to view]

Taladores ilegales asesinaron a líderes asháninkas, afirma Defensoría, RPP Noticias, 10/09/2014
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Asháninka, treinta años de resistencia indígena en Perú por conservar la tierra, RTVE, 01/11/2013
[click to view]

Geographical location of Asháninka Territory
[click to view]

Territorio Ashaninka, Eaf Producions, 10/06/2015
[click to view]

Asháninkas en defensa de su territori, Eaf Producions, 05/05/2009
[click to view]

CIAMB PERU, Comunidad Asháninka Marankiari Bajo, Youtube Page
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Lucie Greyl
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:476
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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