Tag Archives: REDD

Forest peoples urge land rights action

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE There’s plenty of talk at the United Nations and in the corridors of international conferences on making land rights a realiy for forest people. But campaigners say there’s not much action to match. LONDON, 23 February – Forest people’s groups say many governments are failing to protect their right to their ancestral lands, and argue that this neglect is damaging efforts to slow climate change. Their argument is supported by campaigners. Research by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) says the pace of provision of new legal protection for indigenous communities has fallen, despite an increase in professions of support by industry, governments and international initiatives like REDD+ and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. RRI says fewer new laws have been passed to protect indigenous land rights since 2008 than in the six preceding years, and the legislation that has been enacted is weaker. Previous RRI research into 12 emerging market countries found that at least one out of every three hectares licensed for natural resource development overlaps with indigenous community land. When private companies acquire land and resources without first checking who lives there, it says, they expose themselves and their investors to substantial risk, as some level of conflict or business disruption often results. The ownership of almost half the developing world’s rural, forest and dryland areas is contested, according to RRI, directly affecting the lives and livelihoods of over two billion people. They often have no formal title to the lands on which they live and depend, and can seldom legally defend their rights.

Better stewards

An RRI report, Lots of Words, Little Action: Will the private sector tip the scales for community land rights?, examines how land rights and attempts to mitigate climate change through REDD are linked. One of its findings is that REDD+ initiatives are not yet translating into globally significant increases in the area under the ownership and control of indigenous peoples and local communities. Meanwhile, it says, the global forest area covered by industrial concessions is large and growing. Global climate change efforts have a key role to play in securing the land rights of indigenous people and rural communities, it says. And when they are secured, that means less deforestation and more climate change mitigation. Indigenous communities, it is argued, are unlikely to over-exploit forest resources. Their understanding of the forests as the place on which they depend encourages them to resist deforestation and the piecemeal exploitation and destruction of their fauna and flora. Indonesia is the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, chiefly because of deforestation for palm oil and other natural resource extraction. One group, the Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN), says those it represents claim 40 million hectares of the country’s rainforests. If they are given stronger rights over their lands, AMAN says, they will help the country to fight deforestation and reduce climate change.

Wide regional variations

The head of AMAN, Abdon Nababan, is urging President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyon to formally implement a May 2013 Constitutional Court decision which declared unconstitutional a line in the country’s 1999 Forestry Law stating that customary forests are state forest. The Indonesian Government controls 96% of the country’s forests. The RRI report also highlights a number of regional differences:

  • In Latin America, communities own or control more than 39% of forests, a direct contrast with sub-Saharan Africa where less than 6% of forests are controlled by communities.
  • Of the recorded progress seen in Africa since 2002, 89% comes from the implementation of Tanzania’s Village Land Act (1999) and Forest Act (2002).
  • Only two African countries in the study – Liberia and Mozambique – have statutory frameworks that recognize community ownership of land.
  • Governments of the countries of the Congo Basin, which contains the world’s second largest rainforest, claim legal control of more than 99% of forest land.
  • By 2013, all 12 Asian countries surveyed had implemented some form of community tenure regime, but these laws affect less than 4% of forestland in seven of the nations.

One of  RRI’s campaigns seeks to double by 2018 the amount of land recognized worldwide as owned or controlled by indigenous peoples and local communities. Another effort is focused on REDD+, which RRI describes as “the world’s leading initiative to support forest conservation”. REDD+ promises to respect the rights of indigenous people and local communities to protect forests and to sell the carbon they contain as offsets to polluters seeking to meet emissions targets. The United Nations is leading the negotiations for new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) intended to guide economic development and poverty reduction for the next 15 years. But RRI is concerned that no specific target for land rights has yet been set for the SDGs. – Climate News Network

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE There’s plenty of talk at the United Nations and in the corridors of international conferences on making land rights a realiy for forest people. But campaigners say there’s not much action to match. LONDON, 23 February – Forest people’s groups say many governments are failing to protect their right to their ancestral lands, and argue that this neglect is damaging efforts to slow climate change. Their argument is supported by campaigners. Research by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) says the pace of provision of new legal protection for indigenous communities has fallen, despite an increase in professions of support by industry, governments and international initiatives like REDD+ and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. RRI says fewer new laws have been passed to protect indigenous land rights since 2008 than in the six preceding years, and the legislation that has been enacted is weaker. Previous RRI research into 12 emerging market countries found that at least one out of every three hectares licensed for natural resource development overlaps with indigenous community land. When private companies acquire land and resources without first checking who lives there, it says, they expose themselves and their investors to substantial risk, as some level of conflict or business disruption often results. The ownership of almost half the developing world’s rural, forest and dryland areas is contested, according to RRI, directly affecting the lives and livelihoods of over two billion people. They often have no formal title to the lands on which they live and depend, and can seldom legally defend their rights.

Better stewards

An RRI report, Lots of Words, Little Action: Will the private sector tip the scales for community land rights?, examines how land rights and attempts to mitigate climate change through REDD are linked. One of its findings is that REDD+ initiatives are not yet translating into globally significant increases in the area under the ownership and control of indigenous peoples and local communities. Meanwhile, it says, the global forest area covered by industrial concessions is large and growing. Global climate change efforts have a key role to play in securing the land rights of indigenous people and rural communities, it says. And when they are secured, that means less deforestation and more climate change mitigation. Indigenous communities, it is argued, are unlikely to over-exploit forest resources. Their understanding of the forests as the place on which they depend encourages them to resist deforestation and the piecemeal exploitation and destruction of their fauna and flora. Indonesia is the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, chiefly because of deforestation for palm oil and other natural resource extraction. One group, the Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN), says those it represents claim 40 million hectares of the country’s rainforests. If they are given stronger rights over their lands, AMAN says, they will help the country to fight deforestation and reduce climate change.

Wide regional variations

The head of AMAN, Abdon Nababan, is urging President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyon to formally implement a May 2013 Constitutional Court decision which declared unconstitutional a line in the country’s 1999 Forestry Law stating that customary forests are state forest. The Indonesian Government controls 96% of the country’s forests. The RRI report also highlights a number of regional differences:

  • In Latin America, communities own or control more than 39% of forests, a direct contrast with sub-Saharan Africa where less than 6% of forests are controlled by communities.
  • Of the recorded progress seen in Africa since 2002, 89% comes from the implementation of Tanzania’s Village Land Act (1999) and Forest Act (2002).
  • Only two African countries in the study – Liberia and Mozambique – have statutory frameworks that recognize community ownership of land.
  • Governments of the countries of the Congo Basin, which contains the world’s second largest rainforest, claim legal control of more than 99% of forest land.
  • By 2013, all 12 Asian countries surveyed had implemented some form of community tenure regime, but these laws affect less than 4% of forestland in seven of the nations.

One of  RRI’s campaigns seeks to double by 2018 the amount of land recognized worldwide as owned or controlled by indigenous peoples and local communities. Another effort is focused on REDD+, which RRI describes as “the world’s leading initiative to support forest conservation”. REDD+ promises to respect the rights of indigenous people and local communities to protect forests and to sell the carbon they contain as offsets to polluters seeking to meet emissions targets. The United Nations is leading the negotiations for new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) intended to guide economic development and poverty reduction for the next 15 years. But RRI is concerned that no specific target for land rights has yet been set for the SDGs. – Climate News Network

Panamanians reject UN forest plan

EMBARGOED till 2301 GMT on Sunday 26 May A flagship UN policy designed to help to save the world’s forests faces rejection by indigenous groups in Panama, who believe it is being used in an attempt to usurp their ownership. LONDON, 27 May – Indigenous people in Panama are asking the United Nations to close down its global forestry programme, REDD, in their country. REDD – Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation – is designed to slow climate change by preventing the destruction of the world’s most vulnerable forests. It is a key part of the UN’s attempts to tackle a warming climate, and failure in Panama will have impacts much further afield. The demand, by the National Coordinating Body of Indigenous Peoples in Panama (Coonapip), will test a provision of the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which says they have the right to refuse projects and investments which affect their natural resources. “When it comes to the forests of Panama, we are not mere stakeholders to be consulted”, said Betanio Chiquidama, president of Coonapip and cacique (chief) of a reserve that is home to more than 33,000 people in the east of the country. “More than half the country’s forests are on the lands of indigenous people. How can an effective plan to save these forests be negotiated if the indigenous leaders are not at the table? “The pressure on the forests has never been greater – for food, fuel, fibre and mineral exploration. But we also know that there are other lands that could be used for these purposes; the answer is not to kill our forests.”

Mistrust

Instead of safeguarding the forests for the indigenous people of Panama, the chief argues, the UN scheme is being used to wrest control of the forests from them for exploitation by outsiders. Coonapip says plans to apply REDD in Panama were turning into an attempt to weaken indigenous people’s control over their land and to wear down resistance to the possible exploitation of natural resources. It accuses the REDD programme of sidelining indigenous leaders, preventing them from playing a full part in REDD planning activities, and failing to guarantee respect for their rights. Chiquidama was quoted by the London Guardian as saying: “We thought REDD was going to help us strengthen our rights over our territories because no one looks after the forests like we do. It sought to do the opposite, and we have lost all trust in the UN.” For its part, the UN says it thinks the dispute is about money and the control of projects, and that it is complicated by relations between the indigenous groups and the Panamanian Government. Canadian researchers have found that slightly more than half of Panama’s mature forests lie in indigenous areas, where forest cover averages 70-80%.  A 2010 estimate found nearly 60%, or 4,294,000 hectares, of Panama to be forested. Christine Halvorson, of the Rainforest Foundation US, said the Canadian researchers’ work reinforced other studies which showed that indigenous peoples were significantly more able than any other public or private land-owner to protect biologically valuable forests.

Prime example

She said: “Any plan aimed at reducing climate change should strengthen the rights of the indigenous people to the forests that are central to their lives and livelihoods. Without the participation of those most likely to be impacted, efforts to save the world’s forests likely will fail.” Panama was one of the first countries to implement REDD and has been praised as a success story for the programme and as an example of the benefits of strong land rights for indigenous people. “In theory, implementing REDD readiness in Panama should have been easier than most, given the strength of its indigenous peoples and their success in forest management,” said Andrew Davis of the Salvadoran Program for Research on Development and Environment (PRISMA), a Central American NGO. “It should be a red flag that REDD has run into such serious problems related to the participation of indigenous peoples.” Hector Huertas Gutierrez, a lawyer who works with Coonapip, said the group understood REDD’s value and had tried to negotiate with the Government of Panama for a more meaningful role in the negotiations over it. “We were not being heard,” Huertas said. “But now that we are here, we feel as if a door may be opening. Our people are ready to listen.” REDD officials have commissioned an evaluation responding to the group’s concerns. – Climate News Network

EMBARGOED till 2301 GMT on Sunday 26 May A flagship UN policy designed to help to save the world’s forests faces rejection by indigenous groups in Panama, who believe it is being used in an attempt to usurp their ownership. LONDON, 27 May – Indigenous people in Panama are asking the United Nations to close down its global forestry programme, REDD, in their country. REDD – Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation – is designed to slow climate change by preventing the destruction of the world’s most vulnerable forests. It is a key part of the UN’s attempts to tackle a warming climate, and failure in Panama will have impacts much further afield. The demand, by the National Coordinating Body of Indigenous Peoples in Panama (Coonapip), will test a provision of the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which says they have the right to refuse projects and investments which affect their natural resources. “When it comes to the forests of Panama, we are not mere stakeholders to be consulted”, said Betanio Chiquidama, president of Coonapip and cacique (chief) of a reserve that is home to more than 33,000 people in the east of the country. “More than half the country’s forests are on the lands of indigenous people. How can an effective plan to save these forests be negotiated if the indigenous leaders are not at the table? “The pressure on the forests has never been greater – for food, fuel, fibre and mineral exploration. But we also know that there are other lands that could be used for these purposes; the answer is not to kill our forests.”

Mistrust

Instead of safeguarding the forests for the indigenous people of Panama, the chief argues, the UN scheme is being used to wrest control of the forests from them for exploitation by outsiders. Coonapip says plans to apply REDD in Panama were turning into an attempt to weaken indigenous people’s control over their land and to wear down resistance to the possible exploitation of natural resources. It accuses the REDD programme of sidelining indigenous leaders, preventing them from playing a full part in REDD planning activities, and failing to guarantee respect for their rights. Chiquidama was quoted by the London Guardian as saying: “We thought REDD was going to help us strengthen our rights over our territories because no one looks after the forests like we do. It sought to do the opposite, and we have lost all trust in the UN.” For its part, the UN says it thinks the dispute is about money and the control of projects, and that it is complicated by relations between the indigenous groups and the Panamanian Government. Canadian researchers have found that slightly more than half of Panama’s mature forests lie in indigenous areas, where forest cover averages 70-80%.  A 2010 estimate found nearly 60%, or 4,294,000 hectares, of Panama to be forested. Christine Halvorson, of the Rainforest Foundation US, said the Canadian researchers’ work reinforced other studies which showed that indigenous peoples were significantly more able than any other public or private land-owner to protect biologically valuable forests.

Prime example

She said: “Any plan aimed at reducing climate change should strengthen the rights of the indigenous people to the forests that are central to their lives and livelihoods. Without the participation of those most likely to be impacted, efforts to save the world’s forests likely will fail.” Panama was one of the first countries to implement REDD and has been praised as a success story for the programme and as an example of the benefits of strong land rights for indigenous people. “In theory, implementing REDD readiness in Panama should have been easier than most, given the strength of its indigenous peoples and their success in forest management,” said Andrew Davis of the Salvadoran Program for Research on Development and Environment (PRISMA), a Central American NGO. “It should be a red flag that REDD has run into such serious problems related to the participation of indigenous peoples.” Hector Huertas Gutierrez, a lawyer who works with Coonapip, said the group understood REDD’s value and had tried to negotiate with the Government of Panama for a more meaningful role in the negotiations over it. “We were not being heard,” Huertas said. “But now that we are here, we feel as if a door may be opening. Our people are ready to listen.” REDD officials have commissioned an evaluation responding to the group’s concerns. – Climate News Network