Rainforests: the year in review 2017

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.

A new forest economy

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 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.

Tribal women lose food basket to commercial timber species: Study

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.

Women as Agents of Climate Change Action

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 Absorb 1 Trillion Tons Of Carbon By 2100

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.

Does community-based forest management work in the tropics?

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.

Indigenous groups warn Paris accord imperiled by deforestation

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.

Smart technology helps residents beat eviction

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.

Land stakeholders have stepped up resource mobilization efforts to strengthen land rights and tenure governance globally, through the launch of the International Land and Forest Tenure Facility (the Tenure Facility) and preparations for the ‘Land 2030 Global Initiative’.

Stepping Forward to Lead on Indigenous Rights

When nine women farmers from the Kendeng community in Central Java encased their feet in cement blocks last year, many indigenous advocates understood how that felt. Dressed in their traditional clothing, these women protested outside the State Palace in Jakarta to block a proposed cement plant that would pollute the rivers flowing through their villages. Their livelihoods as farmers were under threat, as was their cultural heritage.

Over half the world’s land is lived on and managed using customary and traditional systems. Yet indigenous peoples and local communities have formal, legal ownership of just 10 percent of land globally. Insecure land rights can often lead to protracted conflicts with governments and companies, climate change — when land is not protected from deforestation — and human rights abuses.

Giving Visibility – and Land Rights – to the Indigenous

“Include us, so that we can protect our lands for our children and protect the planet’s biodiversity for all the world’s children,” said by Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples during the launch. Recognising the land rights of native and traditional peoples is a low-cost solution toward achieving the world’s development, environment and climate agendas.

To address the climate crisis, we must address inequality

For most people, the mega-hurricanes we have witnessed – along with their devastating consequences – have put an exclamation point on the urgency of climate change. But an even bigger exclamation point came in the form of a new scientific study showing how the carbon released by tropical deforestation and degradation has been underestimated.