Photo Essay: Protecting the Forests, Protecting Dragon’s Blood

Indonesia faces a deforestation crisis: an estimated 55 percent of forests located in concession areas were lost over a period of 15 years (2000-2015), with an estimated total loss of more than 6.7 million hectares within and outside of concession areas. The country has been losing its forests at a rapid rate for decades, and in turn, adat and local communities’ livelihoods are under threat, and the wildlife and plant diversity in their traditional territories is being lost….

View the full photo essay here.

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.

An unprecedented community forestry initiative in DRC

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.

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.

Reflections from the 2017 Tenure Conference in Indonesia

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.

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 land rights storm brewing in Barbuda?

Millions have learned of the existence of the small island of Barbuda (161 sq. km), through the havoc that Hurricane Irma wreaked on the island, destroying most buildings, roads, water, and power installations. What they may not know is that the less than 2,000 Barbudans collectively own their island; this ownership is under threat, which has been heightened by Hurricane Irma.

World Bank supports the establishment of the International Land and Forest Tenure Facility

On behalf of The World Bank Group, I congratulate the Government of Sweden and the organizers of this event on the launch of the Tenure Facility. Securing indigenous, community, and women’s land rights is fundamental to the Bank’s mission to end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity.

Building a regional roadmap: Africa’s land commissions come together to tackle tenure insecurity

For many governments, upholding commitments to demarcate and recognize community lands is both vitally important and no small task—particularly in environments where land commissions face constrained funding, political or economic roadblocks, or other obstacles. After a number of representatives from land commissions in Africa voiced a desire to exchange experiences and learning with their colleagues from across the continent, we joined forces with the African Union’s Land Policy Initiative to hold a three-day workshop in Accra, Ghana.

RRI Fellow Madhu Sarin has been working on forest tenure reform in India for the last 15 years. In a conversation with RRI, Madhu shares her perspective on what it takes to strengthen women’s land and community forest rights in practice in India, how the country’s Forest Rights Act helped secure women’s land rights, and more.

The Effects of Large-scale Land Acquisitions on Women

Over the last two decades, companies in search of vast tracts of available land for agriculture, mining, and other uses have increasingly turned to rural Asia and Africa. From 2008 to 2010, between 51 and 63 million hectares of land were acquired on the African continent through such large-scale land acquisitions (LSLAs). And while the repercussions of LSLAs affect entire communities, women suffer the most.

Power and Potential: New Report on Women’s Rights to Community Forests

A new analysis from RRI provides an unprecedented assessment of legal frameworks regulating indigenous and rural women’s community forest rights in 30 developing countries comprising 78 percent of the developing world’s forests.