For the past two years, excitement has been building over the potential of REDD (Reduction of Emissions from Degradation and Deforestation) – or simply put, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by not cutting down forests. With deforestation accounting for over 17 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions, REDD seems a magic bullet to cut emissions in the short term.
But for local forest communities, the magic bullet misses the target by a wide margin.
A report released at the COP-15 meeting yesterday (8 December), which looks at ground realities of REDD for communities from nine countries in Africa, Latin America and South Asia, highlights their alienation from international negotiations.
Kamese Geoffrey, of Uganda’s National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE), says some big timber companies misuse unclear definitions in REDD to claim their heavy logging of trees is sustainable.
Geoffrey says Ugandan forest communities are also worried that REDD will force them to leave their territories because the present mechanism does not consider the rights of indigenous people.
In Nepal, locals are fighting to be consulted on forest issues, says Bhola Bhattarai, general secretary of the Federation of Community Forestry Users.
Bhattarai cites Nepal’s success with community forestry, without intervention of REDD, which saw degraded mountains turn green. Clarifying people’s rights supported by progressive policies to restore forests helps, he says.
To address these gaps, Nepal and Ecuador are launching a global initiative on social and environmental standards for REDD to ensure protection of indigenous rights, poverty reduction and biodiversity conservation.
Mohammed Yahia, Middle East and North Africa coordinator, SciDev.Net