Since Peru’s economic growth is largely dependent on its wealth of natural resources, which provide over 50 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and 80 percent of exports. In view of this fact, the government is developing a project for the valuation and protection of this natural bounty which, of course, includes the precious and endangered rainforest.
Part of the challenge includes putting financial values on endangered species. The values also have to cover wide ranging areas such as biodiversity, land-use and climate change. Once a conceptual consensus has been reached within MINAM to serve as a reference for other sectors and the environmental and economic considerations have been reconciled, they will move on to developing the guidelines and methodology for the design and approval of individual projects.
National coordinator of the Peruvian environmental NGO Foro Ecológico and former head of the National Protected Natural Areas Service, Sandro Chávez, believes the initiative to be a generally positive step but warns of the danger that the government will make the mistake of taking environmental issues into account only with regard to investments in conservation projects, “when the environmental component should be mainstreamed in all of the projects presented by all sectors of the state to ensure that they are sustainable.”