Archive for the ‘stewardship’ Category

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have launched a new Good Practice Guide on Sustainable Forest Management: Biodiversity and Livelihoods. This booklet is part of a series of Good Practice Guides produced by the CBD. It provides a range of case studies and other materials to make the forest sector more biodiversity-friendly, and socially beneficial. It addresses the linkages between forestry, biodiversity, and development / poverty reduction. The summaries and examples included in this booklet show how biodiversity and sustainable economic development can go hand in hand. The primary target audiences for the guide are government officers and decision-makers in the various government agencies related to forestry (at global, regional, national and local levels), as well as development practitioners. A CD-ROM is also available.

Chapter II.c of the guide focuses specifically on the role of indigenous and local communities. Indigenous case studies include one from the Congo (on the use of GPS and community radio by Pygmy communities to protect cultural sites) and Malaysia (on biodiversity in production forests).

“Recent developments for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) have the potential to provide benefits to local and indigenous communities. However, a number of conditions would need to be met for these co-benefits to be achieved. Indigenous peoples are unlikely to benefit from REDD where they have no secure land tenure; if there is no principle of free, prior and informed consent concerning the use of their lands and resources; and if their identities are not recognized or they have no space to participate in policy-making processes and/or lack the capacity to engage on an equal footing.” – Extract from Sustainable Forest Management: Biodiversity and Livelihoods

Download the Good Practice Guide on Sustainable Forest Management: Biodiversity and Livelihoods [pdf]…


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BioCultural Community Protocols: A Community Approach to Ensuring the Integrity of Environmental Law and Policy
Kabir Bavikatte & Harry Jonas (Eds.), Natural Justice and UNEP, November 2009.

This book illustrates the application of bio-cultural community protocols to a range of environmental legal frameworks. Part I focuses on the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and access and benefit-sharing. Part II looks at other frameworks to which bio-cultural protocols can be applied by indigenous and local communities, including REDD, the CBD programme of work on protected areas and payment for ecosystem services schemes. Part III looks more broadly at the meaning of bio-cultural protocols for environmental law.

Chapter 4 examines the promise that REDD holds for saving the world’s forests and the risks that it could present if designed and administered inappropriately. The authors also give an overview of how bio-cultural community protocols (BCPs) can play a role in reducing these risks and maintaining the local integrity of this international instrument. It includes an outline of a sample REDD Bio-Community Protocol.

“The use of community-based approaches to REDD such as [Bio-Community Protocols] could help ensure the local integrity of international efforts to save forests from degradation that contributes to climate change by rewarding ILCs for conserving their forests without excluding activities that they people rely upon for their livelihoods and bio-cultural ways of life.” – Extract from Bio-Cultural Community Protocols: A Community Approach to Ensuring the Integrity of Environmental Law and Policy

According to the authors, the development of bio-cultural protocols is one way in which communities can increase their capacity to drive the local implementation of international and national environmental laws. Such a protocol is developed after a community undertakes a consultative process to outline their core ecological, cultural and spiritual values and customary laws relating to their TK and resources, based on which they provide clear terms and conditions to regulate access to their knowledge and resources.

Download BioCultural Community Protocols: A Community Approach to Ensuring the Integrity of Environmental Law and Policy [pdf]…
Visit the Bio-Community Protocol case studies website…

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Pacific Comments on REDD
Special guest article from Fiu Mata’ese Elisara/Executive Director of OLSSI, Samoa




Some 15 participants from Tonga, PNG, Solomon, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Cooks, Samoa, NZ and Australia attended a Pacific workshop on REDD held in Nukualofa USP Centre, Tonga, from 29 to 31 July 2009. Representing indigenous peoples, civil society, and governments, they also discussed related issues such as climate change, forest protection, and role of indigenous peoples and local communities that severely impact our region on a daily basis.

Specific concerns of indigenous peoples raised in the meeting included their rights in line with United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), particularly their rights to free, prior and informed consent, sovereign right to self-determination and rights to lands, territories, environment and natural resources that needed to be upheld and respected.

Participants were deeply alarmed by the accelerating climate devastation brought about by unsustainable development, and experiencing profound and disproportionate adverse impacts on Pacific cultures, human and environmental health, human rights, well-being, traditional livelihoods, food systems and food sovereignty, local infrastructure, economic viability and their very survival as indigenous peoples.

The meeting called consumer nations to adequately address the issue of ecological debt to the global south and not shift liability for their own unsustainable production and consumption to those nations, like the counties in the Pacific, not responsible for the high level of climate emissions.

There was also concern about insufficient capacity building on forests and climate change discussions and negotiations in the communities, the lack of adequate resourcing, funding and representation of indigenous communities at international climate discussions and negotiations, and the failure of governments to adequately and accurately represent the views of indigenous and forest-dependent communities in the region.

The meeting wished to remind governments that Pacific peoples and especially indigenous peoples are on the front line of climate change, whether they are from ‘developed’ nations or not, and do not automatically have access to the benefits of a developed economy.

Call for Action

The meeting, by way of its Tonga Declaration, stated its concern that in its current form REDD is misleading and is a false solution to climate change. It erodes indigenous land rights and fails to account for the long term and ongoing conservation and land management of forested areas by Pacific countries, indigenous peoples, and forest dependent communities. Participants called for all nations in the Pacific to sign on to the UNDRIP and for any agreement on forests to fully and explicitly uphold the rights under UNDRIP, the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD), and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). All rights under UNDRIP must be included into the CBD and UNFCCC, and the customary and territorial land rights of Indigenous Peoples and forest-dependent communities must be recognised and enforced by any international agreement on forest policy.

The meeting called for the suspension of all REDD initiatives in indigenous lands and territories until such a time as Indigenous peoples’ rights are fully recognised and promoted, and community consent has been obtained. The linkage of REDD to markets risks allowing Annex-1 countries to avoid responsibility for reducing emissions in their own countries and could even increase net carbon emissions. Carbon offsetting and the inclusion of REDD credits in carbon markets will do nothing to address the underlying causes of climate change, nor will carbon offsetting and market mechanisms provide the predictable and reliable funding required for addressing deforestation.

Participants demanded that forests not be included in carbon trading schemes, and call on all governments to halt deforestation and keep fossil fuels in the ground; not trade one for the other. Forests need to be protected, but they must be protected by strengthening and enforcing forest legislation, not using market mechanisms.

The meeting supported the call for binding emissions reductions targets for Annex 1 countries of at least 45% below 1990 levels by 2020, and at least 95% by 2050 and other elements of the AOSIS positions. Annex 1 countries must therefore deliver on their commitments to making real and effective emission reductions.

Participants were alarmed that some international climate and forest agreements were not legally binding and that there was a disconnection between these international negotiations and inadequate national greenhouse targets and obligations.

It called for real and genuine solutions to climate change, not false solutions like ocean fertilisation, REDD, bio-fuels and monocultures for plantations that erode and violate the rights of Indigenous peoples and forest-dependant communities, and destroy biodiversity.

Participants objected to the current definition of forests under the CBD, UNFCCC and the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and demanded that any definition of forests must strongly differentiate between plantations and natural forests to incorporate fundamental indigenous understandings of forests and account for the vast differences in carbon storage capacity.

Whilst the participants supported the positions of the Pacific Council of Churches (PCC) and Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) on adaptation responses and emission targets, they nevertheless recognised the non-negotiable positions of some small island nations and their sovereign rights to continue to exist as countries and to fight climate change to the end.

Participants were also gravely concerned about inaccurate carbon accounting, and the vast amounts of money allocated by donor nations for the protection of forests through flawed solutions to climate change, including REDD and called for accurate carbon accounting on forests, and for any funding for REDD, appropriate technology transfer must be prioritised for community based forest management schemes, managed through strengthened mechanisms within the UNFCCC that include impacted communities and in accordance with Indigenous rights under UNDRIP. Donor nations should not fund international financial institutions, like the World Bank to implement projects that support flawed solutions to climate change.

The workshop thanked the Kingdom of Tonga and the University of the South Pacific (USP) in Tonga for their hospitality, and expressed their gratitude to the Global Forest Coalition and the Government of the Netherlands for their coordination and funding of the workshop.

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The Tuvalu Position on REDD deserves strong AOSIS, Pacific, and Indigenous Peoples’ support in the outcome of COP15 of the UNFCCC in Copenhagen
Special guest article from Fiu Mata’ese Elisara/Executive Director of OLSSI – Samoa

The Different Proposals on REDD in the UNFCCC: REDD proposals will lead to forest protection only if the needs and rights of local communities are being effectively addressed. Unfortunately with the exception of the proposals by Tuvalu and Norway, most do not sufficiently respect local peoples’ rights. With assessments also from FERN and Forest Peoples Program (FPP), the following are pertinent comments relevant to this call for support for the Tuvalu and Norway positions on REDD.

Forest Retention Scheme: Tuvalu has proposed a Forest Retention Scheme to provide incentives to communities for protecting and retaining forests. There are three components to this scheme, which include a Community Forest Retention Trust Account; Forest Retention Certificates and an International Forest Retention Fund to provide funding for communities to set aside forest areas or to manage them in a sustainable manner. Communities could draw on a prescribed percentage of their own trust account, to establish measures to combat and reduce deforestation and degradation.

Community Forest Retention Trust Accounts (CFRT Account) : Communities that wish to establish projects to conserve forest areas or manage them on a sustainable basis would seek funding to establish a CFRT Account. Communities could draw on a prescribed percentage of this account to establish measures to combat emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. The remaining amount would be set aside in the CFRT Account. A community could then draw upon the interest from the Account on an annual basis, based on the concept of being paid an annual ‘rent for environmental services’.

Forest Retention Certificates: Once the CFRT Account is established, communities could apply for Forest Retention Certificates which are based on an estimate of the amount of GHG reduced by the project (based on current emission trends compared with potential actions to reduce these emission trends). At the end of a prescribed period (five years) certificates equivalent to a determined amount of CO2 avoided would be issued by national governments, which would need to report annually to the COP. A committee would be established under the COP to ensure that there was not an over-issuance of these certificates. At the end of a prescribed period of time (possibly ten years), the area of forest originally set aside or sustainably managed by the community would be independently assessed. An independent auditor would also assess whether the CFRT account was still in operation. If the project and the account are verified, communities could redeem a prescribed percentage of their Certificates. This process would be repeated every ten years.

International Forest Retention Fund: Funding for the redemption of these Certificates would come from a proposed International Forest Retention Fund established under the Convention. Tuvalu has suggested a levy on inter-national aviation and bunker fuels to finance this fund, which could raise in the region of US$24 billion annually. Redemption of the Certificates would be granted ex-post, although communities have had access to interest from the initial CFRT Account. Communities could deposit these redeemed Certificates into their CFRT Account or use the money as the community sees fit. Procedures for assessment and auditing would be kept as simple as possible to minimize transaction costs. The Certificates could only be redeemed to the International Forest Retention Fund. The fundamental component of this scheme is founded on the principle that the certificates cannot be sold, transferred or traded.

Tuvalu does not support forest carbon trading, largely because leakage will inevitably occur so long as the demand for global commodities continues to put pressure on forests. Tuvalu has recently proposed addressing international leakage through demand-side measures. This would mean that importing countries would have to ensure that forest product imports are derived from sustainably managed forest. Ian Fry suggests creating carbon deficit levies (CDLs) for importing countries. Annex I parties would then accumulate CDLs for importing forest products resulting from deforestation activities in developing countries. These would appear as emissions in national GHG inventories and so would in effect be the opposite of certified emissions reductions (CERs), whereby countries would be adding emission increases to their assigned amount.

Norway: Substantial, predictable, results-based and long-term financial flows to developing countries are required for a post-2012 REDD mechanism – and establishing such flows should be the focus of the mechanism, as it is these flows that make REDD different from past forest protection schemes. Therefore a robust, effective and sustainable system for mobilizing financial resources, and a credible results-based mechanism to distribute them, should be the corner-stone of a future REDD mechanism. Biodiversity should be protected through careful policy design, and any regime should ensure the involvement of indigenous peoples and local communities, who should be involved in the construction of mechanisms that compensate them for the forest protection they promote.

The proposal advocates a combination of fund- and market-based mechanisms. Markets are needed to mobilize the private sector, although they are less effective for countries with low rates of deforestation, and less relevant for capacity-building activities. REDD must be additional to deep emissions cuts from Annex 1 countries – so a market-based mechanism will require collective emissions cuts from developed countries of more than 25% – 40%. If a fund-based mechanism is used, it is essential that adequate finances are raised (relying on development aid type donations will not be acceptable). To this end Norway has proposed a system for the auctioning of allowances as a potential source of REDD funding.

The focus should primarily be on REDD, but incentives also need to account for conservation, sustainable forest management, and enhanced carbon stocks to provide incentives for countries with historically low deforestation rates, or those who have stopped deforesting. A broad scope including all forest activities will reduce the risk of leakage. An independent monitoring system will be required (of emission reductions and reference levels) to ensure credibility.

Reference levels in principle should be based on historical emissions data, but due to the lack of incentives that this principle would provide for countries with historically low rates of deforestation, Norway is open to other approaches for setting reference levels. A national approach, eventually leading to monitoring of all forests in the country, is needed to account for intra-national leakage. International leakage must be addressed. In the early stages, when fewer countries are participating, approaches to address international leakage need to be explored, although Norway has no specific suggestions in this proposal.

The proposal also suggests that there should be close coordination and integration of preparations made through the United Nations REDD Initiative, the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility and other initiatives: not as a substitute for REDD under the UNFCCC, but to stimulate early action and capacity building.

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Leading to an equitable REDD mechanism: Recognizing the rights and role of indigenous peoples and local communities in the Brazilian Amazon Forest

Special guest article from Paula Moreira, Instituto de Pesquisa Amiental da Amazônia (IPAM). For further information, please contact Paula Moreira (paulamoreira[at]@ipam.org.br), Flávia Gabriela Oyo França (flaviagabriela[at]ipam.org.br) or Paulo Moutinho, (moutinho[at]ipam.org.br)


The majority of indigenous peoples and traditional communities (IPLC) living in Amazon forests are the primary stakeholders responsible for the protection, and consequently the conservation and preservation of forested areas. In the Brazilian Amazon, protected areas inhabited by forest peoples total 109.8 million hectares, corresponding to 60% of the protected areas and preserving a forest carbon stock of about 15 billion tons of carbon (32% of total carbon stocked in the Amazon forest) (Figure 1) (note 1).

Figure 1. The following map, as of 2008, shows the deforestation (in yellow) and the preserved indigenous territories (dark blue) and traditional communities reserves (orange) avoiding the advance of deforestation in those areas. Source: IPAM, unpublished data.

Figure 1. The following map, as of 2008, shows the deforestation (in yellow) and the preserved indigenous territories (dark blue) and traditional communities reserves (orange) avoiding the advance of deforestation in those areas. Source: IPAM, unpublished data.

These large protected areas act as major obstacles to the advance of deforestation, as they have regional inhibiting effect, which means that they contribute to the reduction of deforestation outside its boundaries, especially when considering distances up to 10 km. As a result, they avoid the significant potential emissions associated with greenhouse gases. Through simulations aimed at predicting the future deforestation, it was possible to calculate the potential emissions of indigenous lands and extractive reserves from 2008 to 2050. If these areas were not protected, 5 billion tons of carbon would be emitted into the atmosphere by the year 2050 (note 2). This volume represents approximately 2.5 times the effort to reduce emissions of the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, considering its effective implementation.

Despite the high rate of deforestation (> 1 million ha/year) in the Brazilian Amazon, the deforestation inside the Brazilian Amazon protected areas (that includes indigenous territories and local communities (IPLC) reserves) as a whole is very small (< 3% of its total area).

Therefore, it is essential that any discussion focused on the benefits and compensations that should be attributed to the efforts in reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD), as well as the protection of forests, recognize the important role that IPLC have been playing, and respond to their demands in order to promote the improvement of livelihoods conditions in their territories. Such improvements or benefits could be promoted, for example, in form of subsidies for the production of non-timber products and provision of basic needs to these populations. Regarding the right of demarcation of IPLC’s territories, REDD policies should be established in a manner that requires that the Party implementing this mechanism must demonstrate that it recognizes and enforces the rights of indigenous peoples and traditional communities.

As established by the Bali Road Map in COP 13, the needs of indigenous peoples and local communities should be met, when adopting measures for REDD in developing countries. Then, later in COP 14, following the advice by the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and other movements, the Parties recognized “the need to promote the full and effective participation of indigenous people and local communities (IPLC) (note 3), taking into account national circumstances and noting relevant international agreements,” in relation to REDD.

Despite the fact that UNFCCC Parties have recognized the need to promote the full and effective participation of IPLC, recognition and enforcement of fundamental rights in regarding to REDD framing is extremely important, in accordance with Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization (ILO), Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Convention on Biological Diversity, and United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). We describe below the four fundamental rights that become more important regarding REDD, which must be observed when constructing and implementing a REDD policy at the international, national and/or local level:

  1. The right to land, territory, and in particular natural resources (note 4) and the right to fully use its resources in particular the forest resources;
  2. Right of Autonomy and Self-determination (note 5). This means that the IPLC´s have autonomy on managing their territories, legal capacity to deal and negotiate, if desired, patrimonial rights independently and consequently making decision in the processes of development such as the REDD policy or projects.In addition, article 23 of UNDRIP clearly rules: “Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for exercising their right to development. In particular, indigenous peoples have the right to be actively involved in developing and determining health, housing and other economic and social programs affecting them and, as far as possible, to administer such programs through their own institutions.”
  3. The right of culture and identity, including the right to development with identity;
  4. The right to free prior informed consent (FPIC) (note 6).

Thus, it is clear that indigenous peoples have a guaranteed right to participate effectively in the formulation, development and determination of any REDD policy based within their lands and territories. Moreover, any REDD policy must respect their traditional lifestyles, their right to occupy their traditional territories, and their chosen methods of developing economic, social and cultural sustenance and well-being.

In conclusion, it should be a condition for participation in any REDD policy or program that the Party implementing this mechanism recognizes and enforces the rights of indigenous peoples and traditional communities, herein mentioned. As a consequence, recognizing these rights and the role of IPLC in conserving the forest and avoiding deforestation, the benefits of REDD resources should be channeled in a way to help to fulfill the basics needs and rights such as right to access to health, food, to proper education in their own language and culture and improve their livelihoods. This outcome will obviously depend on the capacity of IPLC to evaluate the benefits and risks of REDD, build consensus and design their own proposals on how to channel/use these coming resources.

(1) IPAM, 2009; “Perguntas e Respostas sobre Aquecimento Global“. Unpublished data. Numbers were generated through Dinamica (EGO software) platform for SimAmazonia-2.
(2) According to http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2007/cop13/spa/06a01s.pdf#page=10
(3) Decision number FCCC/SBSTA/2008/L.23, Annex, 1(c) in COP 14, Poznan
(4) Article 26, United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP): “Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired.
(5) Article 3, ibid: “Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
(6) Articles 10, 19, 28, 29, and 32, ibid.

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‘If You Saw It with My Eyes’: Collaborative Research and Assistance with Central American Forest Steward Communities Peter Leigh Taylor, Peter Cronkleton, Deborah Barry, Samantha Stone-Jovicich, Marianne Schmink – CIFOR, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, University of Florida, Gainsville, Florida, October 2008

If you saw it reportCommunities are making unprecedented gains worldwide in forest resource access and management rights. A new conservation actor, the forest steward community, is emerging in Central America as an effective collaborator in forest conservation. How best to support and strengthen this community-based conservation actor while minimizing external dependency? This paper discusses an experience with innovative participatory research in Guatemala and Nicaragua that aimed to strengthen community capabilities in natural resource management.

The Grassroots Assistance Project trained community members to document and critically reflect upon local experience with forest management and external assistance. Together with regional context studies undertaken by professional researchers, these local ‘autosystematization’ studies made possible comprehensive documentation of the multiple dimensions of communities’ resource management, identification of their strengths and vulnerabilities and discussion of future strategies. Their endeavours also reveal an emerging alternative ‘accompaniment’ approach to technical assistance, which promotes a high level of partnership between communities and external institutions, in contrast to traditional assistance, which often creates dependency.

Important lessons learned through the project include:

  • Rather than necessarily representing driving forces behind deforestation and
    biodiversity loss, local communities can be effective stewards of the forest while simultaneously pursuing sustainable livelihood strategies. Effective partnerships are necessary between external interests and local communities promoting conservation, especially given the social, political and economic realities underlying conservation in regions like the Petén and Siuna.
  • Local communities are capable of being full partners in generating information and contributing knowledge about development and conservation, and can contribute valuable perspectives through their analysis of their own situation. They need to develop their own accounts and analyses of their experiences with forest access and resource management as a step toward becoming more effective negotiators with powerful external interests.

Download the ‘If You Saw It with My Eyes’: Collaborative Research and Assistance with Central American Forest Steward Communities report [pdf]…

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Life as Commerce: the impact of market-based conservation on Indigenous Peoples, local communities and women
Global Forest Coalition, CENSAT Agua Viva, COECOCEIBA,
EQUATIONS, Alter Vida, the Timberwatch Coalition, October 2008.

Life as commerce report“Life as Commerce” features case studies from India, Costa Rica, South Africa, Paraguay and Colombia about the impact of market-based conservation mechanisms like ecotourism, forest certification, biodiversity offsets and carbon trade on Indigenous Peoples, local communities and women. These impacts are particularly important in light of the proposal by some countries to include forest conservation into the global carbon market.

“The report provides a number of fascinating real-life stories on how these mechanisms work out at the community-level. It forms an important addition to the increasing number of studies that focus on the potential benefits of these mechanisms for local communities and the rules and standards that are needed to generate these benefits. As the case studies describe, such rules and standards seldom exist, and even where they exist, they are not well-implemented as market mechanisms make it attractive for powerful actors to circumvent them. The costs of these mechanisms, also in terms of undermining community governance, seem to outweigh the benefits in real-life situations.” — Simone Lovera, Managing Coordinator, Global Forest Coalition

Market-based mechanisms are often seen as solutions to the lack of funding for public conservation, but they are false solutions. The current economic crisis has also shown the unreliability of global markets as a potential funding source for conservation.

Download the Life As Commerce report [pdf]…

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