In an op-ed written for LiveScience, Andrew Steer discusses how strengthening forest rights for indigenous communities can protect forests and combat climate change.
The rainforests of Africa’s Congo Basin are the world’s second largest, and are increasingly one of the most threatened. Agriculture, mining, logging, and climate change are already chipping away and thinning out the forests’ edge and interior. The Congo Basin forests’ biggest threat, however, is unseen: a lack of good information. With poor infrastructure, government capacity challenges, and hard-to-detect patterns of change, the forests of the Congo Basin are among the most difficult in the world to monitor and manage.
Starting this month, 1,500 high-resolution satellite images of the Congo Basin from the SPOT satellite constellation provided by Airbus Defence and Space are being shared with WRI, thanks to an agreement with French institutions of the Tropical Forest Spatial Observation program.
Governments around the world legally recognize at least 513 million hectares of community forests, land held collectively by either rural populations or Indigenous Peoples. This area stores about 37 billion tonnes of carbon—29 times the annual carbon footprint of all the passenger vehicles in the world.
Securing Rights, Combating Climate Change, a new report from WRI and the Rights and Resources Initiative, shows that by protecting and expanding the amount of officially recognized community forests, national governments can meet their climate goals while also improving citizens’ livelihoods.
How Strengthening Community Forest Rights Mitigates Climate Change
An analysis of the growing body of evidence linking community forest rights with healthier forests and lower carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.
Global Forest Watch-Fires (GFW-Fires) is a dynamic online forest monitoring and fire alert system that provides near-real time information that can empower people to better combat forest fires before they burn out of control.
Global Forest Watch Commodities (GFW-Commodities) is a business tool to end deforestation in commodity supply chains.
A video tutorial of Global Forest Watch Commodities.
Governments, civil society, and donors are working to strengthen community forest rights in many countries.
According to data from Global Forest Watch, an online mapping platform that tracks tree cover loss and gain in near-real time, industrial development and forest fires in Canada’s tar sands region has cleared or degraded 775,500 hectares (almost two million acres) of boreal forest since the year 2000. That’s an area more than six times the size of New York City. If the tar sands extraction boom continues, as many predict, we can expect forest loss to increase.