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A note by the Editor of ForestIndustries.EU:

We wrote this article more than two years ago. Many significant events happened since then and a huge amount of new knowledge has been collected by the global community:

  1. February 2012: Busting the myths - People as Part of the Solution by Fred Pearce: The long-held contention that rural forest communities are the prime culprits in tropical forest destruction is increasingly being discredited, as evidence mounts that the best way to protect rainforests is to involve local residents in sustainable management.
  2. September 2012: But two main facts we stated back in 2010 had been proofed rock steady and all right: conservation should NOT be the main deal of any program for forests and illegal logging is NOT the main source of deforestation - recently published knowledge proves us right: Evidence-based Conservation, by Terry C.H. Sunderland (CIFOR Article here) and Agriculture Is the Direct Driver for Worldwide Deforestation (PDF here or here)
  3. November 2012: Bolivia and RECOFTC came up with the idea of setting up sustainable forest management (SFM) as a very import action to REDD.
  4. February 2013: A commonly held view in the developed part of the world is that conservation organisations are doing "good" when offering small-scale development activities to improve local livelihoods of people in remote forested areas, such as those in southeast Cameroon. Similarly, logging concessions are often seen as creating conflicts about resource use or environmental degradation while claiming to enhance local development, with little to show in reality. Many remote areas, such as in parts of Central Africa, are also considered somewhat immune to the havoc of our developed world’s financial cycles and crises, yet suffer from the plundering of their natural resources without receiving much in the way of local benefits. Read further here... or here
  5. Mai 2013: Agricultural carbon projects involving smallholder farmers can take up to 16 years to generate a profit from carbon credits. Meanwhile, farmers’ direct income from poles, timber and fuelwood could be 50 times higher than the value of carbon revenue. Read further here...
  6. September 2013: Mitigation without adaptation can leave communities vulnerable. Read further here...
  7. September 2013: Communities need more than money to stop clearing their forests, new research shows

Once more we are told how deforestation of our rain forests can be stopped, "the standing tree has to be worth more than the felled tree" - and since agriculture is accepted as the main cause of the tropical rain forest destruction, thus the "opportunity costs" have to be covered by REDD+. Is to say, the returns on the cash gifts of the REDD+ process must be higher than the profits that can be obtained from an agricultural reuse of a cleared rain forest area. However, even this is not so simple because the profits from the use of this area for an industrial beef production are much higher than the profits which a small farmer can obtained from the same area when he runs agriculture for a living for himself and his family.

But back to the original topic: Conservation can be the sole savior in the REDD process as so many international conservation organization want to make us believe (CI and UNEP in the output of the ITTO Tropcial Forest Update 20 / 1 - Oct 2010):

"In general, policy makers and forest managers can help redd Ensure implementation contributes to biodiversity conservation in a variety of ways. These include (but are not limited to) spatially targeting redd to forests of greatest biodiversity value, Prioritizing the reduction of deforestation and forest conservation over the reduction of forest degradation and forest carbon stock enhancement (as the former will have greater immediate conservation benefits), Establishing new protected areas where appropriate, replacing conventional logging with reduced-impact logging or forest conservation, environmental and social impact assessments Requiring (EAIA 's) for redd programs and / or Establishing environmental safeguards."

Is there no place for People in conservation?

This passage is interesting because conservation is presented as a top priority without losing a single word about the people who are living in, by and with such forests. No word about the fact that forests in the tropics ensure the livelihood of 60 million and provide for a further 900 million people a significant part of their livelihood.
But long, there is resistance suggests this one-sided nature viewing. Not for nothing REDD+ was called into life, where the PLUS represents not just conservation, but also sustainable forest management and carbon enrichment (which is equivalent to planting).

As in many instances impressively documented, carbon sink projects in the tropics have caused an exodus of local communities and indigenous peoples because of them being seized on rigid nature protection agreements.
On behalf of many of these projects two of them should be mentioned here:

  1. An American environmental organization called Nature Conservancy launched a conservation project in Bolivia about a couple of years ago.  The project was named Noel Kempff with a size of ~800 000 hectare. The financiers of this project were American Electric Power, Chevron and GM. The objective was to generate carbon credits. As it can be read in this article, people were resettled and the compensation programs initiated through this project ultimately degraded the resettled people to paupers.
  2. A similar case has happened in Uganda. There have also been about 6.000 people relocated for the purpose of carbon sequestration by forests. The area was declared the "National Park Mount Elgon" and the people were given nine days time to leave the park. There was also promised jobs in return for the relocation. But this was simply not implemented only a few people got some seasonal work in nurseries as a laborer (you can read some additional information here).
  3. Recently (January 2013) a case was reported in Botswana as well

The fate of the indigenous people of North America or Australia in mind

What happened in these cases is just like a common thread, just like something what recurring happened to indigenous people in our history. The role model is always the same: firstly indigenous people have been robbed of their land, centuries later states have started welfare projects in the form of government subsidies as a form of a compensation scheme.
 These governmental money gifts have taken the identity of these people, they destroyed their livelihood, they robbed all tasks and challenges, and they have driven them into dependency on alcohol and state funding. The Indians of the North American continent, the Eskimos of Greenland and the Aborigines of Australia can sing a song like this. For them it was the natural resources or the country itself, for which they had to leave, today and tomorrow it could be carbon sinks and biodiversity of the rainforests for which indigenous peoples again made to paupers.

The carbon pools in the rainforests are to be monitored

Since we explored that deforestation of our rainforests provide a significant contribution to global greenhouse gas balance of earth, fire is on top. At least since the climate conference in Bali a lot of people is thinking on how to get rid of this problem. A program with the somewhat unwieldy name of REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation ") was established. And of course all these people think of what should be the content of this program. Conservation, sustainable forest management and planting trees are the main supporting parts of the program. The core idea of REDD+ is that money paid by developed countries should be transferred to tropical forest countries helping them to reduce the deforestation rate. The changes in carbon pools of these forests should be the indicators for the amount of money to flow.

KISS - Keep It Simple, Stupid

The massive use of the conservation maces in the REDD+ process could cause the same effects as the displacement of Native Americans or Australians that took place centuries ago

It is interesting that in most articles written on this subject, conservation of forests is seen as the one and only solution for REDD+. Probably in the belief the best way to protect ecosystems is to keep out mankind. Sounds plausible at first sight, but ignores the fact that many people are already living in and from these forests (~60 million indigenous people). According to the logic of the so often called conservation idea in REDD+, evacuation of these forests is the logical consequence. And actually thoughts have been given on how people can be “softly” affected to migrate from their forests. The idea behind it: the money paid by developed countries to rainforest nations for reducing deforestation (REDD+ money) will not flow to the governments, but should hit directly to the affected population.

This money will serve as a compensation for the enforcement of an absolute conservation act by protecting the biological diversity of these forests as well. Of course, this money will be used for social programs also. Sounds familiar to you? You just created associations with "reserves" in your mind? And you see indigenous people who have been separated from their true roots and now eke out their miserable existence in state-funded accommodation? You are not alone with these pictures ...

Sustainable forest management along the lines of Central Europe could be key

As mentioned above, conservation is just a part of REDD+, sustainable forest management and tree planting (carbon enrichment) also form part of the PLUS of REDD.

However, the majority of experts involved in the REDD+ process is mainly stressing conservation. Why is this? One reason could be that there is only of few of them having a concrete idea on sustainable forest management. In addition, many conservation organizations serve the stereotype of sustainable forest management as a license to logging, and thus serves as a ruthless exploitation of nature. Of course there is a repeated reference to sustainable forest management in the literature on REDD. But if one begins to read this literature more closely, we notice that very often the imagination of the author has finally exhausted only in conservation.
Be it the GEF, UN-REDD or other international programs in the REDD area they often reduce sustainable forest management to conservation.

It just might be sustainable forest management which offers the capacity to defuse the tension between REDD+ and the people issue because the Central European system of sustainable forest management is a holistic and integral one. The multifunctionality of the forests has top priority, human beings, conservation and utilization are on equal footing. The mutual recognition of all these forests issues results in taking compromises into account without harming each other.

Now what can sustainable forest management deliver for REDD+?

First of all sustainable forest management would all people who live in and from their forests, offer the opportunity to continue to live with their forests.

A picture is worth a thousands words:

As proud as these forest owners are on their forests,
all the indigenous people who live in, from and with their forests could be like them...

Whether in Europe or somewhere in the deepest of the Amazon rainforest

  • They would probably get the task of shaping more proactively their forest habitat. E.g. perhaps they would have to make more thoughts on which areas of their forests are important to protect and which areas could be used for sustainable and sound production of wood. They would perhaps develop new skills in a forward planning, but in countermove they would contribute their ecological knowledge about the ecosystem of their forests in this planning. The result of this planning would be a predictive production plan of which the compliance should be also guaranteed.
  • They would take into consideration environmental and economic aspects of decisions about which species should grown and on which areas sustainable agriculture should be done without degrading of the soil in the long term.
  • They would have to think about how to get the harvested wood out of their forests as gently as possible (where and how forest roads are to be created). Selling of sustainably grown wood would substantially contribute to their livelihood.
  • They would have to think about whether and how they can perform ecotourism within those parts of their forests which are under conservation and would in return share all of their knowledge of the flora and fauna with to the visitors.
  • They would develop a forest policy supported by the government which will cover all functions of their forests e.g. provision of environmental services, the protection from natural hazards, growing wood, etc. In return, these people would then also have the obligation to ensure compliance and delivery the forest policy.
  • And, and, and ...

Come to us and convice yourself

The Sustainable Forest Management System of Austria could save those people who are directly affected by climate change processes such as REDD+, the fate of life in "reserves". And it also offers these people a smooth transition into a new era and the most extensive painless entry into a global world. It would leave them their dignity and they could continue to be proud making their living by their own hands work with their forests.

If you do not believe that sustainable forest management can manage all this then they come to us to Austria. We can show you our long been practiced and lived system of sustainable forest management

Not for nothing reserve rhymes with conserve...


Editor's note: Some days ago (14th of December 2011) Joachim Bilé, current chairman of ITTO’s governing Council came up with an interesting statement: " He noted that many people think the conservation of tropical forests and the development of the tropical timber trade are mutually exclusive. “On the contrary, the one is essential for the other,” he said. “Without conservation there can be no long-term trade. Without trade, the forests will be cleared for agriculture because, one way or another, the people living in tropical countries will continue to demand economic development. ITTO’s role has been, and will continue to be, to help governments, companies and communities to improve the management of their forests and the marketing of their products.Read further here...


More like this...

Editors Note, the 2nd:

Conservation refugees are people, mostly indigenous people, who are displaced from their traditional homelands to create conservation areas including national parks and biodiversity reserves.

Since the "discovery" of the Yosemite National Park on March 21, 1851, as many as 20 million people have been turned into Conservation refugees.

Conservation Refugees - Expelled from Paradise, an award-winning documentary by Marketfilm and Friends of People Close to Nature, introduces us to some of these refugees and the struggles they now face as displaced peoples.

You can watch the film online at http://vimeo.com/12273503

It is no secret that millions of native people around the world have been forced off their homelands to make way for oil, mines, timber, and agriculture. But few people realize that the same thing has happened for a cause which is considered by many as much nobler: land and wildlife conservation.

Indigenous peoples evicted from their ancestral homelands, for conservation initiatives, have never been counted; they are not even officially recognised as refugees. The number of people displaced from their traditional homelands is estimated to be close to 20 million. These expelled native peoples have been living sustainable for generations on what can only be reasonably regarded as their ancestral land.

Editors note the 3rd:


Some further readings:


Pro-active approach needed for forestry debate

(by Fairfax Digital network navigation Donnybrook - Bridgetown Mail)

THE forestry debate is currently verging on the ridiculous.

One side claims forest preservation will attract carbon credits by locking up carbon in the forest, while the other refutes this and claims logging helps to lock up carbon through promoting new growing forests.

Both arguments appear to hinge on the dollar value of forests and ignore the wider complexity of the issue - such as the fact there is much more at stake than carbon pollution and a few dollars.

The two basic facts are that we need to preserve forests for the sake of the air we breathe and we need to maintain forestry industries for the sake of a significant proportion of livelihoods and to provide us with certain needs.

Wrangling endlessly over the question of to log or not to log and becoming entangled in specious arguments about carbon credits and profits, is inevitably going to get both sides of the debate nowhere.

A pro-active approach would be much more useful.

There must be alternative sources of raw materials for at least some current forest products, just waiting to be discovered and developed to make some part of our currently insanely consumerist lifestyles at least a little more sustainable, preserve some trees and keep people in their jobs.

There's always a solution, but it's never found by arguing.

Is Equitable REDD+ Possible? The Role of Social Safeguards, Standards, and Impact Assessment in Reducing Risks and Enhancing Outcomes

(Forest Trends, October, 2012. Michael Richards. 5 pages)

What Do We Understand about the Social Impacts of REDD+ Frequently mentioned social or equity concerns in the REDD+ literature, many of them depending on the strategies that countries or projects adopt to implement REDD+, include:

  • Erosion or loss of customary tenure and access rights, and corresponding livelihoods, as powerful interests, in-cluding governments, move in to capture carbon values;
  • Risks of increased food and land prices from conservation-based REDD when land is taken out of agriculture, especially for the non-participating poor;

  • The perverse incentives problem of a REDD+ mechanism based on reducing deforestation compared to a ‘without project’ baseline based on recent or predicted deforestation rates. This makes it difficult to compensate communities for sustainable forest management since their baseline deforestation rate will be low, and may reward wealthier ‘deforestation agents’ such as cattle ranchers with high baseline deforestation rates;
  • The effect of sudden large injections of cash on local institutions;
  • Stakeholder conflicts, including between participants and non-participants;
  • A possible lower ‘willingness to accept’ payments level of the poor due to their often lower absolute opportunity costs (although relatively higher in terms of their impact on household welfare) echoing the idea that the ‘poor sell cheap.’ The poor are vulnerable to being locked into long-term contracts with restricted livelihood options.
  • Reinforcement of existing gender problems or creation of new ones; and,
  • Negative consequences on conservation-oriented value systems known as ‘motivational crowding out’ – this is when economic self-interest rather than ‘ethical obligation’ or communal regulation becomes the dominant decision-making driver.

Please click here to download.

Land grabbing: is conservation part of the problem or the solution?

Large-scale land acquisitions are increasing in pace and scale, in particular across parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America. Weak governance and poor land use planning mean that commercial ‘land grabs’ often damage biodiversity as well as dispossessing people from customary rights and livelihoods. Land can also be ‘grabbed’ for ‘green’ purposes, triggering conflicts that undermine potential
synergies. Expanded state protected areas, land for carbon offset markets and REDD, and for private conservation projects all potentially conflict with community rights. Such conflict is counterproductive because secure customary and communal land tenure helps enable sustainable natural resource management by local communities. This briefing presents the experience of
international development, wildlife and human rights practitioners, shared at a symposium on land grabbing and conservation in March 2013.

IIED code: 17166IIED
Published: Sep 2013 - IIED
Details: 4 pages (Briefing) 
Language: English
Download here: PDF



REDD+: Conservation is not the deal at all!


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