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Bernama Media: World's forest peoples gain rights, but laws are not enforced
As seen on Bernama Media.
Washington (dpa) - Indigenous and rural communities in tropical forest nations have gained substantial rights since the UN Earth Summit of 1992, but this has had little impact on their actual lives.
This is the main conclusion of a study published by the Washington-based Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) three weeks before celebrations in Brazil of the 20th anniversary of the Rio biodiversity summit.
"Hundreds of millions of forest peoples in tropical nations have, in the last 20 years, quietly gained unprecedented legal rights to the land and resources owned under customary law," RRI said.
But the research also found that more than one-third of the rules governing land rights in most of the forests of Africa, Asia and Latin America "significantly limit a community's ability to exercise those rights."
Forests are critical to absorbing carbon dioxide, the main gas blamed for global warming. Their destruction undercuts the United Nations' efforts to halt climate change that were kicked off in Rio in 1992.
The RRI research showed that lack of action by government officials has allowed land grabs by wealthy landholders and investors and jeopardized the newly-gained rights for forest people.
"The laws themselves are not enough," said Fernanda Almeida, primary researcher of the study. "They have to be implemented."
Forest peoples are also caught between the forces of environmental sustainability and economic development, said Jeffrey Hatcher, another author of the report.
The 27 nations covered in the study account for approximately 75 per cent of the forests of the developing world, home to some 2.2 billion people.
Last week, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff vetoed portions of a new law that threatened to further erode the Latin American country's forest wealth. But other parts of the law remained in effect that reduce for example protection along stream beds.
Posted By David Robeck at 2:30pm on May 30, 2012
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