Improving forest peoples tenure rights reduces poverty and improves forest conditions, says new study
While Asia’s rapid growth has lifted millions out of poverty, persistent pockets still remain in areas beyond the embrace of development.
Some 450 million people in Asia-Pacific live in and around forests, depending on them for subsistence, shelter and a way of life, which has been indigenous to their societies for generations. However, their status remains largely unacknowledged as governments retain administrative control over two-thirds of forestland in Asia.
“Lack of political will and a strong preference for the expansion of industrial concessions (both for logging natural forests and agro-industrial plantations) and protected areas are limiting the scope of forest tenure reform in some countries,” says the new report Forest Tenure in Asia: Status and Trends by Ganga Ram Dahal, Julian Atkinson, and James Bampton. “Increasing demand for bio-fuels and extractive-industry commodities (particularly in China, Indonesia, India and Malaysia) has also driven the conversion of many forestlands, posing considerable threats to the livelihoods of local people.”
In contrast, forestlands designated for use or privately owned by local communities and indigenous peoples currently comprise only 27% of the region’s legal forest estate, and forestlands under the private ownership of individuals and firms total almost 6%.
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