Rhetoric on forest rights needs to be matched by recognition on the ground. Global negotiations on forests and climate change have begun to recognize the importance of rights and tenure of local actors as a fundamental component of achieving forest-climate goals. Unfortunately, these same conversations stimulate the expansion of conservation areas and international forest-carbon markets, which threaten local people’s access to resources. For forest-based communities already facing threats to their land and resource rights from extractive industries and the expansion of biofuels, these new developments present additional challenges to gaining benefits from their legal rights.
This program focuses on the critical issues faced during the implementation of tenure claims. It fosters vital learning across different groups and promotes best practices to improve access to and outcomes of a rights-based approach to tenure reform.
Seeing that biodiversity conservation protects air and water quality, soil health, and valuable resources for livelihoods, medicines, and food, it inherently benefits peoples’ livelihoods.
However, a 2010 RRI study found that uncritical conservation practice, now escalating as a result of increased REDD related funding, was one of the most prevalent challenges to the well-being of forest communities. The report found that the driving forces behind many conservation projects were the breadth and strength of the organizational players in the private sector with vested interests in the success of REDD.
In response to these global players looking to expand conservation areas by 70% over the next decade, RRI is working to develop a more robust strategy to trigger a paradigm shift in the practice of conservation that is community driven and respects human rights and welfare. Together with Partners and Collaborators around the world, RRI will conduct studies and host events designed to catalyze learning and incite high-level dialogue on alternative visions and practices of human-centered biodiversity conservation.
With Social Mapping (or Participatory Community Mapping) of natural resources, communities develop, own and use tools that allow them to document the land and resources they need. This process gives local people in all parts of the world a vital tool in joining debates about their rights to resources, and its use is expanding exponentially as REDD+ advances. Currently, all three regions in which RRI engages practice different forms of social mapping, providing ample opportunity for cross-cultural learning.
To capitalize on this opportunity, RRI is facilitating a process of international exchange. The first step was a seminar in Latin America designed to share lessons learned from experienced communities with participants from across the world, promoting best practices and benefits.