The struggle over Asia’s forests: an overview of forest conflict and potential implications for REDD+

The struggle over Asia’s forests: an overview of forest conflict and potential implications for REDD+Asia is a forest conflict hotspot. As natural forests are declining rapidly, their ability to provide economic, ecological, and social benefits is also declining – leading to heightened competition among forest user groups and increased conflict in many parts of the region. A new paper in the International Forestry Review, co-authored by RECOFTC and CIFOR staff, indicates there are three fundamental and interrelated causes underlying most forest conflict in Asia.

This study focuses on conflicts between local communities and outsiders: the underlying causes, conflict management approaches, and eventual outcomes. Field data was collected through interviews and focus group discussions in seven community-outsider conflict cases across five countries.

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Mangrove devastation, the importance of tenure, and victories for indigenous communities in the news this week

Alarm Over Mangrove Devastation in Pakistan
Dawn
, 9 March 2012
Speakers at a conference in Pakistan on mangrove ecosystems said that an acute lack of awareness among people and policy makers about the critical importance of mangroves was a major hurdle in conservation efforts along the coast.

Indigenous Groups Launch Ground-Breaking Environmental Regime in Brazil
Forest
Carbon Portal, 9 March 2012
The Brazilian state of Acre has implemented a comprehensive legal framework to support compensation and payments for ecosystem services, and indigenous groups are among the first to begin implementing it.

Land Ownership Boosts Climate Resilience in India
Reuters AlertNet
, 11 March 2012
Efforts to secure land ownership for tribal people in one of India’s poorest states are bolstering their economic security in the face of climate-induced hardships, and helping conserve farmland and forest.
Related article:
The next crop of landowners (March 8, Landesa)

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Benefits and drawbacks to protected areas in Thailand

Ms. Somying Soontornwong of RECOFTC’s Thailand Country Program

Ms. Somying Soontornwong

A series of recent studies led by Amherst College (USA) Professor Katherine Sims indicates that protected areas in rural Thailand have contributed to local economic development and lessened rates of poverty in surrounding areas. The studies indicate protected areas can contribute to local livelihoods through eco-tourism and infrastructure development as well as protection for environmental services that contribute to agricultural and forest crop productivity.

These findings strike a contrast with the popular conception that restrictions on land use and access in protected areas limit the economic potential and livelihoods options of local people. While warning against equating environmental protection as a tool for poverty alleviation, Professor Sims suggests that these findings indicate the resiliency and adaptability of local economies under the right conditions.

In a brief interview, Ms. Somying Soontornwong of RECOFTC’s Thailand Country Program shares her experience with protected areas and community livelihoods in Thailand, noting that while in some cases protected areas can improve community livelihoods, they can also place harsh restrictions on resource use and access to the detriment of local people. Clearly, the question of protected areas versus community land does not come with an easy answer.

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