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New paper examines the emergence of forest-based social movements in Latin America
A new occasional paper from CIFOR analyzes the role of forest-based social movements in shaping national forest policy and directing international attention to community tenure and access rights. "Environmental Governance and the Emergence of Forest-Based Social Movements" examines four instances in Latin America where community groups have helped create significant social movements and have had success in improving legal and formal rights to forest ownership and access.
The four cases covered are:
- In Guatemala, the Association of Forest Communities of the Petén (ACOFOP) leads a movement of diverse community-based organizations that have won rights to manage forest concessions in the multiple-use zones of the Maya Biosphere Reserve.
- In Acre, Brazil, the struggle of rubber tappers to secure property rights to maintain their forest livelihoods has allowed rural communities to gain recognition for their traditional landholdings. Residents have remained active participants collaboratingwith progressive governmental agencies to develop alternative policies supportive of forest peoples in the region.
- In the Siuna region of Nicaragua, the Farmerto-Farmer Programme (PCaC) has developed into a movement which enlists farmers near the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve in efforts to slow the advance of the agricultural frontier, to develop sustainable agroforestry and cattle-raising, and to contribute to the ecological sustainability of Bosawas via peasant biological corridors.
- In the Brazilian state of Amazonas, communities faced with the inclusion of their traditional territories within the Mamirauá Sustainable Development Reserve (RDSM) have been able to organize and negotiate a more equitable plan that allows them to remain and continue traditional extraction activities under sustainable management guidelines negotiated collaboratively.
Although the context and outcomes varied, in these cases grassroots collective action to defend local livelihoods emerged when initially weak government institutions attempted to counteract chaotic frontier conditions through the imposition of conservation and development initiatives, provoking local resistance.
A combination of indigenous capacity for collective organization and significant external assistance helped produce grassroots forest movements capable of becoming proactive partners in the management and defence of protected areas. These groups still confront external incursions into their hard-won resources rights and strive to respond to changing membership needs. The cases suggest that local communities can become effective forest stewards when acquired rights are duly recognized, avenues exist for meaningful participation, costs and benefits are distributed fairly, and appropriate external support is provided.
Threats, however, exist to the future of these organizations and their continued successes, thus requiring the continued support of the external community.
The paper is available here.
Posted By Alexandra O'Brien and Megan Liddle at 4:09pm on February 01, 2008
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