Two studies published recently by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the World Bank show that strict conservation is not as effective in reducing deforestation as community forests managed and controlled by indigenous peoples.
The results of the study suggest that indigenous resource management systems not only reduce deforestation rates but also provide a wealth of expertise and practices that can contribute even more to protecting biodiversity, food security, and sustainable livelihoods.
The study was based on a project called Forest Peoples, Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Livelihoods (FPBP) which worked with indigenous peoples and support organisations from Bangladesh, Suriname, Guyana, Cameroon, Venezuela and Thailand. Project participants produced case studies and participatory land and resource use maps combining traditional knowledge with GPS and GIS technologies which gave detailed insight into indigenous and local management systems and the highly complex customary law systems that shape the use of resources in a variety of landscapes.
Indigenous peoples have practicing landscape management for thousands of years in many cases. This project, however, has inspired some of the partners to embark on developing community-based territorial management plans (based on the data collected through community resource mapping and the customary sustainable use studies), taking the whole territory, as customarily used, as the unit of reference, maintaining the relationship between the natural environment and human communities as the focus of the project.
The most common obstacle and challenge is the lack of secure land and resource rights. Secure rights to access plus the management of lands, territories, and resources is a basic requirement for indigenous peoples to maintain and practice customary use and traditional knowledge in their daily interaction with biodiversity.
Sources: Eco-agriculture (Landscapes for people, food and nature blog)and the Forest Peoples Programme