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In Mozambique, Government, Conservationists and Private Sector Come Together to Protect Biodiversity

GFIS - vor 4 Stunden 18 Minuten

When it comes to protecting our planet’s biodiversity, we can’t afford to not have a plan – especially where environmental impacts are inevitable. With support from PROFOR, a World Bank team is supporting the Government of Mozambique in thinking through what a “last resort” program would look given the country’s complex conservation challenges.

When it comes to protecting our planet’s biodiversity, we can’t afford to not have a plan – especially where environmental impacts are inevitable.

In conservation, the “last resort” option is an approach known as biodiversity offsets. It involves preserving habitat in one area to compensate for unavoidable environmental damage elsewhere, usually as a result of large projects, such as those involving mining or oil and gas development.

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Managing tropical forest biodiversity across international borders

GFIS - vor 6 Stunden 15 Minuten
An ecoregional approach within an international framework can effectively conserve forests and forest biodiversity in transboundary areas, according to conservation projects showcased at the 13th Conference of the Parties (COP13) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), underway in Cancun, Mexico.

Two Sides North America Illustrates Health of American Forests with Data

GFIS - vor 6 Stunden 20 Minuten

The global forest community and forest products industry are beginning to change the anti-forestry narrative that has so dominated the news cycles for decades. This is progress that is long overdue. Rather than approaching the educational and outreach efforts with a haggard reliance on emotionally-driven images (that are but a snapshot in time and do not reflect forest life cycles), the forest industry has tangible, positive data on its side. Proof always wins in the end, and the overall health and sustainability of America’s forests is best represented in the fact-based conversation that is occurring now.

Nanning Customs officers receive CITES training

GFIS - vor 6 Stunden 53 Minuten
Beihai, Guangxi, November 2016—Last month, around 60 Nanning Customs officials from the anti-smuggling and passenger inspection departments were trained in implementation of measures under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) during an event convened by the Guangxi branch of China’s CITES Management Authority (CITES MA) and TRAFFIC.

How can the EU WaTER Project help secure, not undermine, human rights in Kenya?

GFIS - vor 7 Stunden 7 Minuten
9 December, 2016

There is increasing concern about the human rights implications of the EU’s €31 million Water Tower Protection and Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Project (WaTER) that is focused on an area with deeply troubling human rights issues.

Both the indigenous peoples concerned, the Ogiek of Mt. Elgon and the Sengwer of the Cherangany Hills, have suffered a running history of gross human rights violations, in the form of mass forced evictions by government conservation agencies, principally the Kenya Forest Service (KFS). These evictions take the form of KFS guards, often with police support, burning down communities’ houses, including their possessions (food, blankets etc.) leaving families exposed to the cold and to hunger.

Forest protection provides the pretext for these evictions, but these are the ancestral home of the Ogiek and Sengwer whose capacity to care for and protect their forests is being wholly undermined by these actions. In contrast, their rights to their lands are recognised in Article 63 2 d of the Kenyan Constitution and in the 2016 Community Land Act which makes it possible for their rights to be recognised in practice. 

Forest communities in Kenya are in dialogue with the National Land Commission concerning their clear proposals to secure their collective customary tenure on conservation conditions, so that they can be supported by state agencies to conserve their ancestral lands rather than be forcibly evicted, leaving their forests at the mercy of extractive forces. 

Given this context, there is serious concern about the WaTER Project’s potential impact on the Sengwer, the Ogiek and the forest itself, given that it appears to be pursuing a model of conservation that does not recognise the rights of communities, nor even their existence. This is evident in the EU project’s: 

  1. lack of any meaningful consultation with those communities; 
  2. lack of any adequate human rights impact assessment and due diligence, with neither the Ogiek nor the Sengwer even mentioned in the EU WaTER project documentation; and evident in the intention to 
  3. strengthen, rather than change, KFS’s culture of eviction and exclusion. 

There is therefore a clear danger that this WaTER project will repeat exactly the same mistakes that the World Bank’s Inspection Panel found its Natural Resource Management Project (NRMP) guilty of. The Panel found that the Bank had not taken “the proper steps to address the potential loss of customary rights" (Executive Summary, para 19: ix). It also identified that the project failed by sustaining the conditions for further evictions by failing to adequately identify, address or mitigate the fact that the institution it was funding, KFS, was and still remains committed to eviction "before, during and after the conclusion of the NRMP" (Executive Summary, para 27).

Just as the NRMP was non-compliant with its own safeguard policies, so the WaTER project - if pursued without reference to the community land rights of the Ogeik and Sengwer - will not be compatible with EU policy and law, including the EU Consensus for Development, the EU Human Rights Action Plan, and human rights obligations binding on the institutions of the EU by virtue of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (CFR).

To illustrate the urgency of the matter, Ogiek homes were burned as recently as June 2016, and more recently, on the 1st December 2016 the Sengwer were given 7-days notice of mass eviction. A new court injunction against such evictions, granted in Eldoret Court on 8th December 2016, will hopefully give KFS pause for thought.

What is clear is that there is an urgent need for the EU to look into this matter, and FPP, FERN  and other concerned conservation and human rights organisations have written to the EU requesting exactly this. It is crucial the EU addresses both the conserfvation and the human rights implications of the WaTER Programme to ensure it does no harm, and instead helps foster a win-win for human rights and forest protection by supporting the resolution process being pursued by communities with the National Land Commission – one that seeks to secure ‘community tenure on conservation conditions’ by recognising and supporting the Ogiek and Sengwer as owner-conservators of their ancestral lands.





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Interview with Milka Chepkorir: Sengwer women in Kenya and their struggle for land rights

GFIS - vor 10 Stunden 36 Minuten
9 December, 2016

Milka Chepkorir Kuto is a human rights activist and member of the Sengwer indigenous people, who live in the the Embobut and Kabolet Forest, Kenya. For the last three years, Milka has been focusing on indigenous women and their role in defending land rights. In occasion of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, we have spoken to Milka about her work and the importance of including women in the struggle to retain ownership and control over their lands. 

Where is the traditional territory of your people and what are the threats that you are fighting to retain ownership and control over your lands?  

The Sengwer territory is Cherang'any hills in Kenya. Currently the community lives in the Kapolet forest and Embobut forest. The community faces many threats from the government and from other people, including forced evictions, discriminatory policies on forest management, forced assimilation, and non-recognition by the government.

What are the impacts of this struggle on women in your community? The impacts of the loss of lands and resources? 

Forced evictions have affected women and children more directly than any other group in the community. Women have lost their families since men run away to avoid being arrested, and they have been traumatised since witnessing their houses burning to ashes. One of them confessed that she will never forget how her granary burned with the only food she had for her children. Women have lost faith in the government that should be protecting them but is in fact violating their rights.

Some women have been assaulted by government officers while being evicted and efforts to look for justice have been in vain since the police have not treated the matter seriously. There are fears that other women and other community leaders have been assaulted and tortured but have not spoken out because of this. Since men are often on the run to avoid being arrested, women have to take on their tasks as well as carry out their own. The economic status of women and families in general has declined: many properties have been destroyed, money is used to bail out community members who have been arrested, and the livestock has died because nobody could take care of it.

Why are gender considerations important in the way that you struggle for land rights?

In the Sengwer community, women are traditionally not allowed to own land and they are not involved in any decision making process. Most of their activities, however, are deeply connected with the land and despite the difficulty of speaking out because of traditions, women are the most affected by land conflicts. Gender consideration is very important to enable both men and women to give their perspectives on how land issues affect them differently. 

Women are known to carry the concern of many in their hearts, it is important to have them in the struggle for land rights. Women are very clear that they need for the Sengwer to be granted collective community ownership of their lands, rather than individual title (whether for men or women). Individual titles would simply mean that more dominant non-Sengwer people will find ways of taking their land from them, whereas with collective ownership the Sengwer can protect their forests, secure their livelihoods and be able to care for their children. 

I’d like to share the voice of another Sengwer woman here too: “It is very painful to me because the Government says our community lands – Kapkok, where I was born - are their lands. I feel a lot of pain. If someone comes and takes away what belongs to you how will you feel? We know very well that it is our land. God in heaven is looking and there is nothing that can be taken just like that. We are really disturbed. We now have to live in Kapkok under trees, in caves. When it rains like yesterday and it is very cold, we really feel for the children. Here we are talking about dialogue, so why don’t your [Kenya Forest Service] officers stop harassing us while we talk? We are being arrested in our own homeland. We won’t fear anybody, we will speak the truth. My prayer is that God helps us to do what we can do as we pursue this dialogue process.”(Sengwer woman representative at Eldoret meeting with National Land Commission, 20th April 2016)

How are you working to ensure that women have a say in the struggle for land rights for your people and community?

I have been working to empower women and to make sure that they are included in the land rights struggle. With the help of Forest Peoples Programme, I was able to carry out a research on the effects of evictions on Sengwer women. The recommendations included further efforts to empower women and to educate men from the community on the need to have women on board for the land rights struggle. I have encouraged women to speak up and give their contributions during any forum that would give them the chance. This has also been done with them speaking Sengwer language while being translated into English or Swahili. In cases where Sengwer women cannot participate, I have personally taken such opportunities to speak for women and children in the Sengwer community.

Do you have any recommendations for people working in the wider land rights movement? Any messages? 

For those working for land rights specifically in African communities, I would say that it is time to be realistic and see what women go through in the name of culture and traditions. We all know how much women suffer when land and resources are lost in a community and it’s therefore vital to understand the need for both genders to be included in decision making processes. This will help to reduce the gender conflicts that tend to arise among families and communities when there is no understanding of why women should be included in the community land rights struggle.

RELATED CONTENT Milka Chepkorir Kuto Call to Action logo Sengwer Women’s Experiences of Evictions

Softwood Lumber Agreement

GFIS - vor 14 Stunden 4 Minuten
A publication asked me to provide some comments, anonymously about the pending Softwood Lumber agreement between the US and Canada.  I include what I provided, and I’m going to add some of my ideas that might make a better solution than anything I hear from other sources.  I hope this helps enlighten some people on … Continue reading "Softwood Lumber Agreement"

Bamboozled by bamboo?

GFIS - vor 14 Stunden 16 Minuten

A workshop in Ecuador heard how a new toolkit is helping practitioners get to grips with risk in locally controlled forest and farm business.

Ecuador's Vice Minister of Agriculture, Jamill Ramón, last month opened the 5th international Forest Connect workshop in Quito, Ecuador, entitled 'Risk management for locally controlled forest business: securing the future'. The meeting brought together participants from 17 countries. 

In his keynote address, Vice Minister Ramón set out the government's aim of delivering 'el buen vivir en los territorios rurales', or 'wellbeing in rural territories'.

Since 70-90 per cent of Ecuador's producers are smallholders, achieving this ambition means supporting locally controlled forest and farm business to sustain and diversify production. Promoting proactive risk management is crucial to this.

Testing the toolkit

The Ecuadorian family business Allpa-Bambú (AB) was one of more than 18 locally controlled forest and farm businesses worldwide to undertake a risk assessment process as part of developing (eight cases), and then testing (10 cases), a Forest Connect toolkit on risk management. 

The toolkit offers businesses a step-by-step guide in how to assess and then manage or take risks. Being able to anticipate and actively manage risk can not only help businesses grow and increase profits, it can also increase sustainability – for example building up capital resources to counter risks of running out of money during critical periods and limiting dependence on credit.

Allpa-Bambú produces bamboo for the local and international markets in cooperation with other producer associations. It has 55 hectares of bamboo and facilities for sawing, treating and drying bamboo poles. 

Using the toolkit, the main risks Allpa-Bambú identified included: 

  • Dependency on a single US export buyer
  • Insufficient raw materials of high enough quality for export products, and
  • The uncertain legislative environment in Ecuador exacerbated by an economic (and hence construction industry) crisis.

The action plan to mitigate risks that emerged included: 

  • Diversifying towards national buyers
  • Reducing dependence on its main client by developing alternative products such as charcoal, construction products and craft with other businesses 
  • Increasing access to raw material, and 
  • Providing technical assistance to producer associations to improve product quality.
Seven simple steps to managing risk

The workshop heard from all 10 businesses that had tested the toolkit, each strongly endorsing its value. 

By introducing risk management as a positive opportunity, the toolkit opens up space to talk about challenges and plan how to address them by taking seven intuitive steps.

Of these steps, the case studies found the prioritisation process helping businesses identify 'killer risks' particularly useful: it forces a solutions-oriented approach with an action plan that allocates specific responsibilities to staff accordingly. 

Collaborative testing by members of the Forest Connect alliance brought forward suggestions of how to further improve the toolkit. This will help generate further examples of successful locally controlled forest and farm business.

Making critical connections

Small, locally run agricultural and forest enterprises are often unregistered and isolated from potential partners, buyers, services and government.

As an active knowledge network, Forest Connect equips individuals and organisations with practical ways to connect small and medium sized business to each other and to markets, service providers and decision-makers.

The alliance's generic toolkit on supporting small and medium forest enterprises has now been translated into four languages – English, Spanish, French and Chinese – with more specific toolkits, such as the risk management toolkit giving more detailed knowledge where necessary.

Getting community forest products recognised

The third day of the workshop looked to the future – by revisiting the question of how best to distinguish locally controlled forest and farm business products from others in the market.

Back in 2007, members of Forest Connect had done some of the background work on Fairtrade timber that led to a number of industrial trials to enable the markets to discern locally controlled timber business. Unfortunately, the trials were suspended in 2015.

In the light of that suspension, Forest Connect members are debating how best to develop or use systems and labels to distinguish such businesses anew – linking better metrics to evidence-based advocacy work with government. The aim is policies that help secure resource access and procurement for locally controlled forest and farm business. 

Such work is important because it is often over-legislation, not just lack of preferential legislation that drives business under. Tit-for-tat legislative trade barriers erected between Ecuador and Peru in 2015 had contributed to crippling exports of bamboo from Ecuador to Peru – which affected businesses such as Allpa-Bambú.

Participants discussed how locally controlled forest and farm businesses, by their nature, have more prospects to share prosperity compared with industrial-scale capital controlled businesses, offering real opportunities to create jobs, generate wealth and strengthen communities. 

The reasons are obvious. Local business owners live with the consequences of their decisions. Being accountable for the resources they manage, they are often committed to sustainable use of forests and land. Group ownership often leads to fairer distribution of profits (often involving community investment of some sort) while collective action often involves developing networks for market access and political representation – that can in turn help resolve land use conflicts. 

Local ownership also engenders greater concern for vocational education to develop capacities of both men and women. Finally, group ownership requires some form of negotiated vision of what business is for – which tends to lead to greater buy-in to the concept and practice of sustainable development. 

Duncan Macqueen (duncan.macqueen@iied.org) is principal researcher in IIED's Natural Resources research group.

Further resources

  • Find out more about the work of the Forest Connect alliance on Facebook
  • Forest Connect is an open ad hoc alliance linking supporters of locally controlled forest and farm businesses (more than 1000 members from 94 countries). It is co-managed by IIED, The Centre for People and Forests (RECOFTC), the FAO-hosted Forest and Farm Facility, and the Earth Innovation Institute. It aims to reduce poverty and protect forests. 

FTA event coverage: Gaining traction on climate goals

GFIS - vor 18 Stunden 32 Minuten

By Catriona Croft-Cusworth, originally posted at CIFOR’s Forests News An increasing number of states are embracing commitments made under the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global temperature rise. But how do these grand ambitions play out in reality? In practice, climate action gains traction at the ground level — ‘where the rubber hits the road’, so […]

The post FTA event coverage: Gaining traction on climate goals appeared first on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.

FTA event coverage: FTA scientists at CBD COP13 in Mexico

GFIS - vor 18 Stunden 58 Minuten

From 4-17 December 2016, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is holding its Thirteenth Conference of Parties (COP13) in Cancun, Mexico. With an emphasis on agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism, the meeting aims to dismantle sectoral silos by bringing together the range of local, public and private stakeholders who play a key role in managing and safeguarding the world’s biodiversity. […]

The post FTA event coverage: FTA scientists at CBD COP13 in Mexico appeared first on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.

Beyond dichotomies: Gender and intersecting inequalities in climate change studies

GFIS - vor 21 Stunden 12 Minuten

Authors: Djoudi, H.; Locatelli, B.; Vaast, C.; Asher, K.; Brockhaus, M.; Sijapati Basnett, B. Climate change and related adaptation strategies have gender-differentiated impacts. This paper reviews how gender is framed in 41 papers on climate change adaptation through an intersectionality lens. The main findings show that while intersectional analysis has demonstrated many advantages for a comprehensive study of gender, it […]

The post Beyond dichotomies: Gender and intersecting inequalities in climate change studies appeared first on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.

First Syrian woodpecker in Germany

GFIS - vor 22 Stunden 15 Minuten
A great spotted woodpecker – or could it be a Syrian woodpecker? Unless you look very carefully, it is easy to confuse the birds. But the Syrian woodpecker has one key feature that enables us to distinguish it from the great spotted woodpecker.

With deforestation increasing in Brazil, will Norway ask for its US$1 billion REDD money back?

GFIS - Do, 08/12/2016 - 18:45
On 29 November 2016, Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) released its estimate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon for the period August 2015 to July 2016. It’s not good news. Deforestation increased by 29% compared to the previous year. Deforestation in Brazil hit a low in 2012. Since then it has increased by […]


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by Dr. Radut