Monday October 21, 2019

Giving Local Communities Responsibility to Manage Forests Could Help Ease Poverty, Deforestation

Identifying a mechanism — community forestry — that can credibly reduce carbon emissions at the same time as improving wellbeing of the poor is an important step forward in global efforts to combat climate change

0
//
ease poverty, deforestation, poverty solution
FILE - Trekkers hike through a densely forested area near Ghorepani, Nepal, Oct. 23, 2014. VOA

Giving local communities the responsibility to manage forests — which are shrinking worldwide — could help ease poverty and deforestation, scientists said Monday in what they described as one of the largest studies of its kind.

Researchers examined more than 18,000 community-led forest initiatives in Nepal, using satellite images and census data from the South Asian country, where more than a third of forests are managed by a quarter of the population.

Giving Nepalese communities the chance to look after their own forests led to a 37 percent drop in deforestation and a 4.3 percent decline in poverty levels between 2000 and 2012, they said in a paper published by the journal Nature Sustainability.

“Community forest management has achieved a clear win-win for people and the environment across an entire country,” said lead author Johan Oldekop, an environment lecturer at Britain’s University of Manchester.

poverty solution, deforestation
Cutting down forests can also harm livelihoods and cause tensions, as people compete for fewer resources. Pixabay

Deforestation is the second-leading cause of climate change after fossil fuels, accounting for almost a fifth of planet-warming emissions, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said in a 2018 report.

Trees soak up carbon dioxide from the air as they grow, and release back stored carbon when they burn or rot. Cutting down forests can also harm livelihoods and cause tensions, as people compete for fewer resources.

“Nepal proves that with secure rights to land, local communities can conserve resources and prevent environmental degradation,” Oldekop said in a statement.

Worldwide numbers

Yet indigenous peoples and local communities legally own only about 15 percent of forests worldwide, according to a 2018 analysis by the Rights and Resources Initiative, a global land rights coalition.

poverty solution, ease poverty, deforestation
Identifying a mechanism — community forestry — that can credibly reduce carbon emissions at the same time as improving wellbeing of the poor is an important step forward in global efforts to combat climate change. Pixabay

The world lost 12 million hectares (30 million acres) of tropical tree cover in 2018 — the equivalent of 30 football pitches a minute, said an April report by Global Forest Watch, run by the U.S.-based World Resources Institute.

ALSO READ: UN Launches Campaign to Bring Young Generation into Gender Equality Fight

The researchers who studied Nepal said other countries should try to follow its example by allowing local communities to manage forests as a way to cut emissions, while lifting people out of poverty. The study said Mexico, Madagascar and Tanzania had similar community-led forest initiatives.

“Identifying a mechanism — community forestry — that can credibly reduce carbon emissions at the same time as improving wellbeing of the poor is an important step forward in global efforts to combat climate change and protect the vulnerable,” said co-author Arun Agrawal from the University of Michigan. (VOA)

Next Story

Brazil Rainforest Deforestation Jumps 67% in First Seven Months as Government Attacks Data

Brazil contains roughly 60% of the rainforest

0
deforestation
In the Atlantic Forest in Bahia, fire and deforestation of hill slopes are forbidden by Brazilian law, but law enforcement is ineffective. (Credit: IESB archive). VOA

Deforestation in Brazil’s rainforest has jumped around 67% in the first seven months of the year, according to preliminary data from Brazil’s space research agency, which the government has attacked as misleading and harmful to the national interest.

The National Institute for Space Research (INPE) monitoring system registered destruction of 4,699 square kilometers (1,814 square miles) this year compared to 2,810 square kilometers in the previous period monitored, data on the agency’s website showed.

In July alone, 2,255 square kilometers of Amazon forest were lost, more than triple July 2018’s 597 square kilometers, according to INPE. That is the largest monthly deforestation registered by the agency in years and nearly the land mass of Luxembourg.

The Amazon is the world’s largest tropical rainforest, a bulwark against global warming often called the “lungs of the earth” because of the vast amounts of carbon dioxide it soaks up and recycles into oxygen.

Brazil contains roughly 60% of the rainforest. Environmentalists and researchers blame President Jair Bolsonaro’s rhetoric in favor of economic development in the Amazon for emboldening loggers, ranchers and informal miners since he assumed office in January.

deforestation
The Amazon is the world’s largest tropical rainforest. Wikimedia Commons

Bolsonaro has vehemently criticized the data from INPE and fired the head of the agency on Friday over what he called “lies” that hurt the country’s trade talks. “News like this that does not match the truth causes great damage to the image of Brazil,” Bolsonaro said in a press conference last week.

The country’s space research agency, independent scientists and environmentalists, however, have all defended the data as accurate. Fired INPE director Ricardo Galvao told Reuters on Saturday that he continued to defend the figures as showing an “undeniable” spike in deforestation.

A retired Air Force colonel, Darcton Policarpo Damiao, will head the agency for now, the government said on Monday. Damiao has a doctorate in sustainable development and his thesis was on deforestation in the Amazon, according to the announcement.

Due to cloud cover and other factors, deforestation registered in a certain month may have happened in a prior month, Environment Minister Ricardo Salles said last week. At a news conference with Bolsonaro, the minister suggested that discrepancies of that kind made it impossible to trust the data.

Salles said deforestation should only be measured with more exact annual figures, published in the so-called PRODES data series, instead of the rapid-response DETER data, which is updated almost daily.

deforestation
The Amazon is the world’s largest tropical rainforest. Wikimedia Commons

Yet comparing longer periods of time – the first seven months of the year, for example – virtually eliminates concerns over when the deforestation actually took place, according to Tasso Azevedo, coordinator of geographic initiative MapBiomas. MapBiomas is a collaboration between universities, non-profit groups and technology companies to monitor deforestation, drawing from several different sources including INPE data.

ALSO READ: Japan’s Electronic Maker Shows ‘Flying Car’; Hopes to Connect with its Various Islands

Tasso called the government criticism of the DETER data baseless, estimating its accuracy at more than 90%. Sharp rises in the rapid-response data have consistently corresponded with an increase in the year-end figure, he added. In fact, the annual PRODES figures have always shown even worse deforestation than detected by the faster DETER data over the past decade.

“Why does (Salles) spend so much time trying to say that the alerts happened earlier or later, when he could use the same time to take some action,” Azevedo said. “Instead of indicating what they’re doing to reduce deforestation, they’re criticizing the deforestation data.” (VOA)