So it’s the year of forests …

8 Jan


The UN has declared this year the “International Year of Forests” and so I am going to devote my first blog of 2011 to not only forests but people who live in and from the forests.

They add up to about a billion and are among the poorest people on earth in terms of what they earn. Yet their main problem isn’t so much poverty as  invisibility. It isn’t easy to make a billion people disappear but logging and palm-oil companies, plantations and governments all do a pretty good job of it.

Older blog posts in The Global Kiosk tell some stories of forest dwellers who have been forced out of their forest homes, from areas where they have lived sustainably for eons. Some collect and sell forest products, others farm beneath the trees, using one patch for a few years before leaving it to go fallow for decades and return to their natural state.

So hopefully this year not only the forests but the many organized communities who struggle for tenure rights and the protection of their forest habitats will get some much-deserved attention. In Indonesia, the SPI campaigns for the rights of forest dwellers, while in Nepal, an organization called FECOFUN does the same. In Brazil, the National Union of Rubber Tappers have long used a class interpretation to assert the value of keeping loggers, ranchers and dam-builders out of the Amazon, while in Thailand, the Assembly of the Poor take on the issue of forest dwellers who have been evicted from wooded areas, so that pulp-and-paper companies can have free rein in destroying trees and replacing them with so-called green deserts: expanses of eucalyptus that kill anything around or underneath them.

And unfortunately, conservationists in rich countries have also added to the problem, standing by while forest tribes – especially in Africa – are kicked out of their homelands in a mistaken attempt to protect bio-diversity.

A few far-thinking NGOs, like the London-based International Institute for Environment and Development are coming out with studies showing the crucial importance (and simple common sense) of letting forest dwellers protect and manage their forests themselves. Let’s hope that international bodies like the UN take notice of them – as well as the cause they have decided to champion this year.


One Response to “So it’s the year of forests …”

  1. Deb January 8, 2011 at 4:55 pm #

    Great story Augusta … I immediately forwarded to six people. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: