We asked six experts about the biggest opportunities, moments, and potential catalysts for change they see for community land rights in 2018. Here’s what they had to say.
New data gathered from Afro-descendant community councils and state records reveal that the Colombian government has failed to address 271 claims for collective Afro-descendant land rights—threatening cultural and environmental sustainability, the rights of Afro-descendant community territories as established by Law 70 of 1993, and the successful implementation of the peace accords. Although all 271 communities have submitted formal applications for collective land titles, the government has largely delayed recognition of their claims—in some cases for over a decade.
There is a real need for community forestry to contribute to reducing emissions while securing immediate community benefits such as livelihoods diversification, climate change adaptation, and employment. These benefits can only become a reality if community tenure, and not simply access and benefits, is secured.
Between America’s abandonment of leadership on conservation and environmental policy, Brazil’s backtracking on forest conservation, massive forest fires worldwide, and the revelation of a sharp increase in global forest loss in 2016, 2017 was a rough year for tropical rainforests. Still, there were bright spots, including the establishment of new protected areas, better forest monitoring and research, and continued progress in recognizing the critical role local and indigenous communities play in forest conservation.
On November 17, the forest department of Odisha gave in to the demands of tribal communities from six villages of Kalahandi district. The communities wanted to sell the tendu leaves they had collected from the Bhawanipatna forest division to traders of their choice, but it took them six months of protests and several memorandums to make the forest department budge. Traditionally, the Odisha Forest Development Corporation would buy the leaves from them. This year the corporation was offering the communities Rs 2.40 for a bundle of 60 leaves but direct sale to traders fetched them Rs 7.50.
Indigenous and community organizations often find that progressive laws on land tenure do not always translate into progress on the ground. Even in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where forestry laws allow for community ownership and management of land, there are major obstacles hindering the realization of customary forestry rights.
Indigenous peoples and other local communities play a vital role when it comes to mitigating the impact of climate change. But despite inhabiting 50 per cent of the world’s land, these communities legally own just 10 per cent of it. As a result, civil society groups are calling on governments around the world to scale up the protection of customary land rights.
For two decades, indigenous peoples have engaged with the UN climate talks, pointing out that the world’s climate mitigation strategies have omitted their knowledge systems and, in some instances, actively harmed and displaced their communities. This year, indigenous representatives managed to make important strides, including gaining approval of a platform that finally opens the door for their active participation in global climate negotiations.
The creation of platforms to acknowledge and address the role of Indigenous Peoples, local communities, and rural women may represent a crucial step toward addressing the disparity between the lands Indigenous Peoples and communities protect and depend on and the legal recognition of their rights. These communities will have a formal platform at future climate talks to exchange knowledge, influence policy, and press for recognition of their rights before world leaders.
Testimonies of affected tribespeople and activists point to a conspiracy that forest departments are using afforestation as a tool to exert control over forest lands traditionally used by tribespeople.
The National Wildlife Action Plan released by India’s environment ministry has asked for the speedy recognition of the forest rights of communities living inside tiger reserves, months after the ministry itself stalled the process.
NEW DELHI: A new report on government’s plantation drives has found that most of the plantations are carried out on forest areas which are already supporting native trees and vegetation. These plantations are in fact replacing forest trees with commercial timber species such as teak, eucalyptus, bamboo and others. Moreover, the plantations are often encroaching on forest dwellers’ land in violation of the forest rights act which gives forest communities the right to use forest resources, to conserve and to live in forests.
A public consultation on the issue of Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA) violation in protected areas (PA) was carried out on November 15 in Delhi by All India Forum for Forest Movements (AIFFM), Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), Kalpavriksh and Vasundhara.
About 70 participants—representing local community members from over 32 PAs—civil society members and researchers across 13 states attended the consultation. The community members and activists also shared experiences and presented testimonies.
The Indonesian government has relinquished control over nine tracts of forest to the indigenous communities that have lived there for generations, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo announced at a recent conference on land tenure in Jakarta.
Both the conclusions of the conference and the collaboration that went into organizing it attest to the willingness of the current government and civil society to collaborate toward these goals. In the face of globalization and efforts to promote economic growth in Indonesia, full recognition of the land and forest rights of local and adat communities remains of the utmost importance. There is hope that this collaborative effort represents a step in the right direction toward securing the land rights of adat and local communities across Indonesia.
Arguably the biggest problem facing humanity—climate change—has a surprising solution: legally recognize and enforce the land rights of rural women in customary tenure systems. This November, it is essential that the world’s nations gathering in Bonn for the United Nations’ annual climate change conference (COP23) do not lose sight of this tremendous opportunity.
Alain Frechette of the Rights and Resources Institute said this was the most cost-effective way to reduce emissions. “Community-owned land sequesters more carbon, has lower levels of deforestation, greater biodiversity and supports more people than public or privately owned forest,” he told the gathering of indigenous leaders, supporters and journalists.
Forests can play a larger and more important role in reducing climate change emissions than previously thought, according to a suite of research released today. By stopping deforestation and allowing young secondary forests to grow back, the cumulative “forest sink” could grow by over 100 billion metric tons of carbon by 2100, about ten times the current rate of annual global fossil fuel emissions, according to a summary of the latest scientific research on forests and climate change.
On paper, community-based forest management sounds like a good idea and it has garnered strong support internationally. But experts familiar with this conservation strategy have found that while CFM may be succeeding in meeting some of its goals, it fails to achieve others. By reviewing some of the scientific literature on CFM’s impacts, we have tried to tease apart its effectiveness.
Big transformations are coming to the world of forestry, a sector generally known for being conservative and slow to change.
The community of Santa Clara de Uchunya, in Ucayali, Peru, is fighting back against both land trafficking and human rights abuses in the region.
Indigenous leaders and forestry experts warned on Tuesday that without more funding and protection for forests and their peoples, the world will fail to meet the ambitious goals set by the Paris Agreement.
In Indonesia, large portions of lands and forests have been allocated for industrial plantations and extractive businesses with little respect for the land rights of the Indigenous Peoples and local communities occupying or claiming these areas, despite a 2013 Constitutional Court Ruling stating that customary forests should be returned to their traditional owners.
A software tool to help poor urban Cambodians facing eviction get secure land titles can also be used in rural areas where tens of thousands of people are snared in conflicts over land, according to the rights group that designed the technology.