Indigenous People Key to Rainforest Protection

New report recommends maximising community participation in rainforest protection.

Trying to bridge the gap between international level talks and reality on the ground in tropical forest counties, this report presents an alternative vision for reducing deforestation.

Presented last June, at the Bonn climate change talks, the report argues for policies and actions that would tackle the drivers of deforestation, rather than focusing exclusively on carbon. In this way, the Accra Caucus claims that deforestation initiatives will also benefit biodiversity and rainforest dwellers. A coalition of southern and northern NGO’s, including indigenous people’s organisations from 38 countries, the Accra Caucus vision argument is supported by a wide range of case studies from Indonesia, Ecuador, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Brazil, Cameroon, Papua New Guinea, Tanzania and Nepal.

As presently formulated, the Accra Caucus see REDD (the UN framework for Reducing Emissions from deforestation and Forest degradation) as a double edged sword, with concerns that it could allow polluters to continue ‘business as usual’ while removing land and resource rights from forest-dependent peoples. Furthermore, depending on the definition of ‘forest’ adopted, REDD could perversely offer opportunity to logging activities and tree plantations over the protection and restoration of biodiversity-rich natural forests.
The report highlights three critical components of any rainforest protection initiative: full and effective local participation; secured and equitable land rights; and community based forest management.

“This fits perfectly with Cool Earth’s Asháninka project. Working in collaboration with the an indigenous Asháninka rainforest community, we’ve spent the last 30 months supporting their efforts to protect their own rainforest from both legal and illegal logging.”

“When they contacted Cool Earth for support in 2008, the Asháninka community of Cutivireni had already decided to take control of its forest and had seen the logic of protecting the forest for future generations. Now that loggers can be seen operating in other parts of their valley, more adjacent Asháninka communities are declaring an interest in becoming part of the project.”

“Aware that they have strong legal rights to their traditional forest, this Asháninka community are now in the process of zoning their territory to distinguish between areas for total rainforest conservation, areas for sustainable forest management and areas for future village and garden expansions.”

Matthew Owen, Director of Cool Earth

Formed in 2008 at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in Ghana, it works to ensure that the rights of indigenous and forest communities are at the centre of REDD negotiations, that efforts to reduce deforestation promote good governance and that REDD is not a substitute for emission reductions in industrialised countries.


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