New research shows that indigenous and community forestlands hold one quarter of all tropical forest carbon, and failure to prioritize the rights of forest guardians could risk huge levels of carbon emissions.
Deforestation will be a key topic at Marrakech climate change conference, with research showing that securing community land rights is cost-effective solution.
At least one quarter of the carbon stored above-ground in the world’s tropical forests is found in the collectively-managed territories of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, according to new research released one week before negotiators meet in Marrakech for the UN’s annual global climate conference. Community lands contain at least 54,546 million metric tons of carbon (MtC), equivalent to four times the total global carbon emissions in 2014. The analysis—authored by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC), and World Resources Institute (WRI)—looks at lands legally owned and customarily claimed by communities in 37 tropical countries.
One tenth of the total carbon contained above-ground in tropical forests—22,322 MtC—is in collectively managed forests that lack formal, legal recognition. Without secure rights, these communities and their forests are at risk of illegal, forced, or otherwise unjust expropriation and capture by more powerful interests, thus displacing the residents, destroying the forests and releasing the carbon they contain into the atmosphere.
“Tropical forests represent some of the most carbon-rich landscapes on the planet,” said Wayne Walker, PhD, scientist at Woods Hole Research Center. “Both satellite and on-the-ground evidence suggest that Indigenous Peoples and local communities are the best stewards of these lands, the carbon they contain, and the wealth of other environmental services they provide.”
The findings serve in part as a response to the criticism that many tropical forest nations have not embraced this cost-effective solution to preventing further emissions from forest loss. Despite peer-reviewed evidence that strong land rights allow Indigenous Peoples and communities to outperform all other land management strategies, only 21 of 188 countries included forest peoples in their national plans for reducing carbon emissions under the Paris Agreement, according to an RRI analysis released earlier this year.
While the report reaffirms the critical amount of carbon held in legally owned or designated community forest in Brazil (14,692 MtC), Indonesia (7,068 MtC) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC – 6.941 MtC), neither Indonesia nor the DRC have legally recognized the rights of forest communities. Brazil’s neighbors, the Amazonian countries of Colombia (4,572 MtC), Venezuela (3,526 MtC), Peru (2,995 MtC), and Bolivia (1,915 MtC), rank fourth, fifth, seventh, and ninth, respectively, in terms of total collectively-managed carbon. Papua New Guinea (3,513 MtC), Mexico (2,196 MtC), and India (1,068 MtC) round out the top ten countries.
These figures rely on conservative estimates that only include the documented extent of community-managed forests in the tropics; the full extent is known to be much larger. Recent studies show that Indigenous Peoples and local communities customarily claim at least 50 percent of the world’s lands—including forests—but legally own just 10 percent of global lands, and have some degree of recognized management rights over an additional 8 percent.
“Tropical forests contain an untapped wealth of opportunities in the effort to limit climate change, said UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz. “Securing the rights of Indigenous Peoples to own and manage their forests is an inexpensive way to limit emissions while improving communities’ economic stability. But too many governments and private sector leaders keep their heads in the sand while the forests are destroyed.”
Deforestation contributes 24 percent of greenhouse gas emissions globally and 58 percent in Latin America alone. Research released in early October by WRI found that in tropical forests where indigenous and community land rights were recognized and protected, the deforestation rates were two to three times lower than elsewhere in Bolivia, Brazil, and Colombia.
“The global community needs to recognize the scientific evidence: keeping tropical forests intact prevents carbon emissions, and forest peoples do the job better than anyone else,” said Katie Reytar, research associate at World Resources Institute. “The Marrakech conference presents an opportunity to act on this evidence. We need to take concrete steps toward recognizing rights, before global warming reaches the breaking point.”
The new report follows up on an earlier report released in 2014 by RRI and WRI and related studies conducted by a consortium of scientific, policy and indigenous organizations in 2014 and 2015. By expanding the sample size to include nearly twice as many countries as previous assessments, along with more recent, spatially-explicit carbon estimates, the study released today presents a more comprehensive picture.
Economic benefits of indigenous land rights quantified
Securing the ownership rights of these forests for the Indigenous Peoples and local communities that live there is both a sensible and cost-effective method for lowering carbon emissions, according to the earlier report from WRI. When accounting for the ecosystem services that the tropical forests provide—soil retention, pollination, biodiversity, flood control, and a source of clean water—along with tourism and other economic sectors that benefit from community forests, the benefits over the next 20 years amount to $523 billion to $1.165 trillion in Brazil, $54-119 billion in Bolivia, and $123–277 billion in Colombia.
In contrast, the cost of securing these land rights—only a few dollars per hectare of forest each year—is less than 1 percent of the total benefits in each country. This contrast becomes even more apparent when considering that the world’s forests—when intact—remove 20-30 percent of carbon dioxide emissions.
“The economics of climate change match the science,” concluded Alain Frechette, senior policy advisor at the Rights and Resources Initiative. “To limit climate change, we need economically feasible and long term solutions that protect human rights, reduce poverty, and support sustainable development. Securing the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities helps secure everyone’s right to a more stable and sustainable future.”
Extra-Mile Water Conservation Efforts Amidst Shortage
While some states are literally flooding due to heavy rains and run-off, others are struggling to get the moisture they need. States like Arizona and California have faced water emergencies for the last few years; water conserving efforts from citizens help keep them out of trouble.
If your area is experiencing a water shortage, there are a few things you can do to go the extra mile.
Repair and Maintain Appliances
Leaks around the house – think showerheads, toilets, dishwashers, and more – lead to wasted water. Beyond that, the constant flow of water will cause water damage to your floors and walls. Have repairs done as soon as you spot any problems.
Sometimes, a leak won’t be evident until it gets bad. For that reason, make appointments to have your appliances inspected and maintained at least once per year. This will extend the life of each machine as well as nip water loss in the bud.
When your appliances are beyond repair, look into Energy Star rated replacements. They’re designed to use the least amount of water and energy possible, without compromising on effectiveness.
Only Run Dishwasher and Washer When Full
It might be easier to do a load of laundry a day rather than doing it once per week, but you’ll waste a lot more water this way. Save up your piles of clothes until you have enough to fully load the washing machine. You could also invest in a washing machine that senses the volume of water needed according to the volume of clothes.
The same thing goes with the dishwasher. Don’t push start until you’ve filled it to capacity. If you have to wash dishes, don’t run the water while you’re washing. Fill the sink or a small bowl a quarter of the way full and use this to wash your dishes.
Recycle Water in Your Yard
Growing a garden in your backyard is a great way to cut down on energy and water waste from food growers and manufacturers, but it will require a lot more water on your part. Gardens must be watered, and this often leads to waste.
You can reduce this waste by participating in water recycling. Using things like a rain barrel, pebble filtering system, and other tools, you can save thousands of gallons a year and still keep your landscaping and garden beautiful and healthy.
Landscape with Drought-Resistant Plants
Recycling water in your yard is a great way to reduce your usage, but you can do even more by reducing the amount of water required to keep your yard looking great. The best drought-resistant plants are those that are native to the area. In California, for example, succulents grow very well, and varieties of cactus do well in states like Arizona or Texas.
Install Water-Saving Features
The average American household uses between 80 and 100 gallons of water every single day. You obviously can’t cut out things like showering or using the toilet, but you can install a few water-saving tools to make your water use more efficient.
There are low-flow showerheads, toilets, and faucet aerators. You could also use automatic shut-off nozzles, shower timers, and grey water diverters. Any of these water saving devices can easily cut your water usage in half.
Research Laws and Ordinances for Your City
Dry states like California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada must create certain laws to keep the water from running out. These laws are put into practice for the benefit of everyone, but they only work if you abide by the laws.
If you live in a state where drought is common, research your state and city’s laws. They might designate one day per week that you’re allowed to water your lawn or how full you can fill a pool. Many people are not well versed in the laws set by their states, and it would mean a lot to your community if you did your part.
Cyprus is the Forerunner for Ecotourism
When I was looking for a second citizenship, I happened to see One Visa’s offer on Cyprus Citizenship by investment program. I had heard about Cyprus being a beautiful country, but I did not know much else, so I decided to start my own research about this gem of a place.
After I did some research, I discovered that Cyprus is a popular destination for tourists. Unfortunately, heavy tourism and the associated development affected villages here and there, with some communities being slowly abandoned. To avoid this from happening any further, Cyprus went into ecotourism, and today, it is the forerunner in this arena. Let’s look in further detail at ecotourism in Cyprus here.
How was it started?
It all started in 2006 with the launch of the “Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative.” This program has the sole scope of promoting ecotourism developments in the tourism industry. It concentrates on those areas which require conservation and environmental safety. At the same time, it helps develop social, as well as economic statuses in the rural parts of Cyprus. Through this program, the government was able to acknowledge that ecotourism will play an essential role in the future of Cyprus, with the concept gaining momentum among tourists from all over the globe.
How to go about it?
So, now you are interested in going for an ecotourism vacation in Cyprus. How will you go about it? I would immediately say that everyone should visit the quaint Cypriot villages spread throughout the island. These communities have a smaller population, and not many tourists visit. They make for a great relaxing spot. Enjoy seeing the bustle of village life go by where simple pleasures abound. Most hamlets are linked by specific minibus tours which ferry tourists to these havens. These trips will have a regular schedule, aimed at promoting ecotourism further. Such tours will be regulated to ensure that while the villages can benefit and develop, they do not get overpopulated or overcrowded with tourists. Therefore, you can be sure to enjoy the beautiful sceneries that nature has to offer here.
If you are wondering if there are any activities to do here, my answer would be: “Yes, plenty.” You can go for some guided walks across various regions here. Here you will be able to explore the diversified natural beauty and wildlife of the area. Several agritourism activities and services are planned to open shortly. Once launched, you will be able to engage in picking olives, milking goats, and several other such events here.
What can be learned?
Although we are aware that natural resources need to be preserved, we do not always remember it in real life. When we go on tours such as these, we can realize the significance of protecting nature. Also, when more and more people visit these places, the concept of ecotourism will become popular among more people. Awareness about ecotourism is set to grow and spread throughout the world. Subsequently, sustainable tourism will gain popularity around the globe with Cyprus being the forerunner for ecotourism .