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Balancing climate strategies with community needs
A recent publication by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) addresses the potential impact on forest communities of an increasing global effort to offset carbon emissions through carbon trading and avoided deforestation. The briefing highlights a growing push to combat climate change through reduced deforestation in tropical countries be it through carbon trading programs or investing in emission-reduction projects in developing countries, but the rush to do so may come at the cost of the livelihoods of forest peoples if plans are not carefully considered.
"Overall, the carbon trading market is dominated by large-scale projects with little community ownership and benefit. Large-scale monoculture plantations are an efficient way of sequestering carbon, due to their rapid growth rates and minimal management regimes, but they have negative impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. They present high barriers to entry for poor producers because they are capital intensive and scale dependent."
"With potentially high rates of return from carbon offset projects, opportunities are being seized by powerful elites, while local communities often lack secure tenure and resource rights to stake their claim."
The authors list several projects that combine both carbon reduction initiatives with the rights and tenure of poor forest communities, to demonstrate that this cooperation is possible.
For example, "Plan Vivo [in Mozambique] is a good example of a scheme specifically designed with community benefits in mind, and supports small-scale initiatives with local communities that can be used to generate tradable carbon credits." The project:
Includes a Community Carbon Project in the N'hambita community in the buffer zone of the Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique;
Improves the livelihoods of this very poor community by introducing agroforestry systems that provide income from carbon finance and a range of other benefits such as fruit, timber, fodder, fuelwood, and improved soil structure;
Benefits the community with improved organizational capacity, education and awareness about forest stewardship and conservation.
This issue will feature prominently as international leaders discuss climate policy for a post-Kyoto era, and advocacy on behalf of forest communities will remain important to ensure that tenure rights and local communities' livelihoods are not compromised as part of new initiatives.
Posted By Alexandra O'Brien at 1:00pm on January 03, 2008
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