To save the Forests. Indisciplinary Public Forest Management

To save the Forests. Indisciplinary Public Forest Management

What are the impacts of the structure of functions and powers of public entities in the sustainable management of the forest and wildlife heritage of Peru?

Many of the major forest problems that the country is going through are related to deforestation, loss of forest biological biodiversity, illegal logging and trade in wood, illegal trade in wildlife, invasions of Protected Areas, weak development of forest production activity at the level of forest concessionaires and native communities, among others, have not been able to be reversed with the consequent impact on the Forest and Wildlife Heritage and therefore the well-being of Peruvians. This process of deterioration of the Forest and Wildlife Heritage is not limited to national borders but has important effects at the global level in the effort to face climate change and in the generation of opportunities to overcome poverty, contribute to security food and cultural and spiritual development.

From time to time, innovative proposals appear that try to generate answers that allow us to solve these big problems, but it seems that good intentions are not enough. It is therefore necessary to make a more structural reflection to try to find the root of these problems and generate alternatives that have the capacity to account for the complexity of forest problems.

The sentence is forceful: forest problems cannot be resolved from the forestry point of view (its institutions, its norms, its ideologies, its symbols, its discourses, its professionals and the actors directly involved) because forest threats come from both external factors and factors internal. By far, external problems are the ones that most affect deforestation and forest degradation processes. Therefore, it is important to overcome a vision of a closed system and understand that forests are open systems that mobilize multiple dimensions, planes, scales, temporalities, meanings and meanings. This means reviewing the simplifying thinking paradigm that has so far accompanied the public forest administration. We will support that claim.

In the dimension of the epistemic framework or how we build forest knowledge, we have to recognize that we are the product of a science approach through which knowledge is built from the fragmentation of reality, analysis and integration with vain illusion that the reconstitution of the parts recreates reality for us. Thus, for the most part we have placed ourselves in a disjunctive, reductionist, linear and deterministic approach that ends up completely isolating us. I remember that when we ever discussed this issue with an important forestry official, he pointed out “we already have enough problems in the forestry world to win other people's lawsuits”. Although many forestry professionals are true, realizing that their conventional approaches did not give the great answers, they began to buy the messes of others and explore new fields precisely to equip themselves with better tools for how to interpret the complexity of the forest world. It is a way of recognizing the dialogue between the forest system and the environment. In this epistemic framework is also inscribed the education that we receive classified in Professional Schools, Faculties and Departments built as strongholds with strongly established borders, as well as professional forestry colleges.

The other great dimension refers to the dominant worldview in the forestry sector. In this case, the predominant current of thought is the one that is located in the separation of human beings and nature, a separation that at the same time gives license to dominate the forest and put it at the service of economic growth and not necessarily at the service of the welfare of the communities. people although it is alluded to. In this perspective, the forestry sector must contribute greatly to the economic growth of the country (without asking how that wealth is distributed and what are the impacts of the creation of that wealth). In the vision of forests on the one hand and people on the other, a socioecosystem approach is not appreciated that alludes to the explicit recognition of the diversity of interrelationships, interdependencies between forest subsystems and social subsystems. Hence also the difficulties to install a sustainable forest landscape management approach that undoubtedly recognizes the complexity of the territories. Our institutional framework has not been designed to implement sustainable forest landscape approaches.

Another great dimension refers to the market logic to which most of us have uncritically subscribed and which we accept as dogmas and "finished concepts" understood as concepts that can no longer be revised or modified under pain of being classified as marginal or other colors adjectives. Thus, concepts such as market, efficiency, competitiveness are disciplinedly used as infallible recipes to overcome forest inertia. The problem is not the concepts as such, but the way in which these concepts are understood and used, leading to the premise "without economics, there are no valid social and environmental considerations."

The confluence of our way of knowing, way of seeing the world, the logic of the market have influenced the way we have built institutions and how we have provided ourselves with a legal framework. Thus we come to the heart of our discussion regarding assessing the relevance of the functions and competencies of public forestry entities.

The Organic Law of the Executive Power - LOPE (Law No. 29158) has as its basic principle the orientation of service to the citizen. Among others, this principle considers effectiveness (management is organized for the timely fulfillment of government objectives and goals and efficiency (management is carried out optimizing the use of available resources, seeking innovation and continuous improvement). principles the balance between flexibility and management control and intergovernmental and intersectoral articulation. Note that the LOPE itself considers the balance between flexibility and control, this is another way of recognizing the need to know how to move between order and chaos (chaordic systems) and not just stay in the box of inflexibility limited by functions and competences, it also speaks of intergovernmental and intersectoral articulation, with which there is an explicit recognition of the need to take into account horizontal and vertical interactions and interdependencies.

The LOPE, through the principle of organization and integration, indicates that the entities of the Executive Power: i). They are organized in a hierarchical and decentralized regime when appropriate, on the basis of related functions and competencies, avoiding duplication and overlapping of functions, ii) They coordinate and cooperate continuously and permanently with the Regional Governments and Local Governments within the framework of the Law and the Political Constitution of Peru, iii) They are related to the other Powers of the State and autonomous bodies, in accordance with the Political Constitution of Peru and the law, iv) They exercise with impartiality and neutrality the powers that have been conferred on them. The norm expressly says avoiding duplication and overlapping of functions but in turn requires coordination. It means then that active and effective coordination is not at odds with the legal framework. However, we find many difficulties in the field.

The National Policy for the Modernization of Public Management by 2021, prepared under the coordination of the Secretariat of Public Management, Presidency of the Council of the Minister, considers that the main deficiencies of public management in Peru, among others, are: i) Absence of a system efficient planning and problems of articulation with the public budget system (for which budget programs for results were created), ii) Poor design of the organizational structure and functions, iii) Lack of information management systems and methods and knowledge, and iv) Weak intergovernmental and intersectoral articulation.

The LOPE also considers the principle of competence by which it is recognized that: i) The Executive Power exercises its powers without assuming functions and attributions that are fulfilled by the other levels of government, and ii) The Executive Power exercises its exclusive powers, not being able to delegate or transfer the functions and powers inherent to them. In this perspective, the LOPE considers two types of powers: The powers of the Executive Branch and the powers shared with regional and local governments.

Although the functions and competencies help to bring order to the public forest administration, there are also a series of problems that not only refer to overlap but also to gaps, which are cleverly exploited by stakeholders inside and outside the public forest administration to favor the forest conversion, budget weaknesses and logistical conditions for implementation, if not political will to implement them. The functions and competences can be a fundamental tool to favor the sustainable management of Forest Heritage and Wild Fauna or they can be perverse mechanisms that affect the loss of forests.

The institutional framework is oriented so that the public servant fully fulfills his functions and competences and does not "invade" other fields of the administration. Thus, the Law of the Code of Ethics of Public Function (Law No. 27815) under the principle of responsibility indicates that all public servants must carry out their functions fully and comprehensively, assuming their public function with full respect. In extraordinary situations, the public servant can perform those tasks that by their nature or modality are not strictly those inherent in their position, provided that they are necessary to mitigate, neutralize or overcome the difficulties they face. The problem is when the server ends up isolating itself from the complex forestry reality in strict compliance with its functions and competencies and therefore the results of its action are not effective. Everyone knows the coordination difficulties that exist between forest entities, which result in overlapping activities when not confusing or contradictory messages.

To somehow break the sectoral approach, the LOPE has considered the creation of temporary Multisectoral Commissions and permanent Multisectoral Commissions. But these commissions are not enough if each member maintains its institutional flag and its disciplinary approach. Frequent coordination processes are required with a predisposition to interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary work. That requires the ability to get out of their epistemic and methodological frameworks and that is something that is very difficult to appreciate. The same is valid for the different Systems created around forest and wildlife management.

The framework for effective public management leads to better governance through better coordination and management of information systems. Thus, the National Policy for the Modernization of Public Management has the general objective of guiding, articulating and promoting in all public entities, the process of modernization towards a public management for results that positively impacts the well-being of the citizen and the development of the country. To achieve this, the following specific objectives are proposed, among others: i) Redefine at the national, regional and local levels, the competencies and functions of the entities in accordance with the decentralization process, ii) Implement process management and promote simplification administration in all public entities in order to generate positive results in the improvement of procedures and services aimed at citizens and companies, iii) Develop a knowledge management system integrated into the monitoring, monitoring and evaluation system of public management, to obtain lessons learned from successes and failures and establish best practices for a new management cycle, and iv) Promote electronic government through the intensive use of information and communication technologies (ICT) to support planning processes , production and management of public entities allowing in turn to consolidate government proposals rnot open. It is important that these articulated and process management proposals, where information systems play a central role, can be effectively implemented.

The Program on Forests (PROFOR) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO, 2011) in the Framework for the Evaluation and Monitoring of Forest Governance points out, among other multiple aspects, the importance of cooperation and coordination and alignment between broader policies and forest policies.

It is therefore concluded that the structure of the functions and competences contribute to an order for the sustainable management of the Forest Heritage but at the same time constitute serious limitations when acting as islands or fiefdoms and not enough efforts are made for effective coordination. A look focused exclusively on functions and competencies can leave “blind spots” that end up affecting forests. Forest problems are complex problems and therefore must be assumed as such. Addressing the complexity of sustainable management of Forest and Wildlife Heritage urgently requires profound changes in our epistemological frameworks, our institutions, our norms, our discourses and practices. It is not possible to pretend to manage forests from the simplifying paradigm and from linear logics and single responses or finished speeches. The great forest transformation comes from creativity, innovation and the ability to see what until now we have not wanted to see.

By: Rodrigo Arce Rojas

Forestal engineer

[email protected]


Program on Forests (PROFOR) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations - FAO (2011). Framework for the Evaluation and Monitoring of Forest Governance. Rome: FAO. Recovered from:

Norms: Organic Law of the Executive Power - LOPE (Law No. 29158). El Peruano Lima, Thursday, December 20, 2007

Video: Ontario Envirothon Virtual Lab: Sustainable Forest Management (August 2021).