August 30, 2011

Scientists reveal the best way to protect rainforest

A new study by scientists supports the rainforest conservation methods used by the charity Cool Earth, showing that community led management works best.

A new study by scientists supports the rainforest conservation methods used by the charity Cool Earth, suggesting that community led management is more effective than traditional ways of protecting forest.

Tropical forests which have been designated as protected areas, displacing human activity have annual deforestation rates much higher than those managed by local communities according to the new findings.

The rainforest charity, Cool Earth has stopped logging in areas of the Peruvian Amazon where it works in partnership with indigenous communities who live along the arc of deforestation. The charity set up in 2007 aimed to show that the people who live in the rainforest are best placed to protect it with its director Matthew Owen claiming that;

“Paper reserves are not as effective as keeping rainforest standing as putting that forest back into the legal tenure of the people who live there and enabling them to safeguard it from the ground up.”

Scientists from the Centre for International Forestry Research have published a paper in the journal, Forest Ecology & Management which reveals that traditionally protected areas lost on average, 1.47 percent of forest cover per year compared to just 0.24 percent in community managed forests.

Manuel Guariguata, Senior Scientist with the centre and one of the co-authors of the paper states that; “our findings suggest that a forest put away behind a fence and designated ‘protected’ doesn’t necessarily guarantee that canopy cover will be maintained over the long term compared to forests managed by local communities – in fact they lose much more.”

Analysing case studies from the three main tropical forest regions, Latin America, Africa and Asia, the study shows that the benefits of community-based management can be seen over the long term leading to greater conservation participation, reduced poverty, increased economic productivity and the protection of forest species.

Most of the protected areas cited in the case study (90% of them) are managed by national governments and are often characterised by limited funds and capacity, leading to poor enforcement.


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