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Reuters UK: Keeping forest dwellers involved in forest protection and REDD
It’s no coincidence that Latin America has had some of the best success protecting tropical forest. That’s because the region, led by countries like Mexico and Brazil, has put more forest land in the hands of indigenous groups and other forest residents than any other part of the developing world, according to the U.S.-based Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI).
Forest residents who own or otherwise control the land they live on have a strong incentive to protect it from illegal loggers and other destructive pressures, argues Andy White, head of the initiative, which works on forest policy issues, especially land tenure.
The proof? Brazil’s indigenous reserves have become the heart of that country’s Amazon forest protection effort, he says, and in Mexico, where communities own 80 percent of forest land, forests are more effectively managed and protected than in many parts of the world. Altogether, nearly a third of Latin America’s forests are owned or designed for use by indigenous communities, RRI figures show.
But in Africa, less than 2 percent of land is owned or controlled by forest dwellers – a major impediment to protecting forests in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo, where government-owned forests benefitted from years of war – which effectively kept out big logging companies – but are now coming under increasing pressure.
…That’s particularly important as the world pushes forward with REDD, or Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, a UN-backed effort under which richer greenhouse gas emitting countries pay poorer tropical forest countries to protect standing forest as a way of curbing carbon levels in the atmosphere. REDD-plus, the latest incarnation of REDD efforts, seeks to ensure that forest dwellers have input in the structure of REDD deals and benefit from them.
But a growing number of multi-million-dollar REDD deals – between donor countries like Norway and beneficiaries such as Indonesia and Guyana – combined with growing world competition for resources like timber and minerals mean “forests have never been so valuable as they are now”, White notes. That presents a growing risk that forest dwellers could see efforts to gain legal rights to their land blocked or even lose rights they already have…
Posted By Jenna DiPaolo at 1:14pm on February 08, 2011
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