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Failure to Protect Forests Risks 22,322 Million Metric Tonnes of Carbon Emission

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Deforestation by Crustmania via flickr

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.”

Environment

Why Going Green is Good For Your Furniture

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These days, it seems like the planet can use all the help that it can get. Worrisome changes in the environment have made it crucial for humans to step up and make necessary changes to their lives to protect the future of the world. While it might feel like one person can’t make much of a difference, there are actually plenty of ways that the individual can create positive changes. Online mailbox has some useful bits of advice to share about how going green with your furniture can make a positive impact on the environment.

Eco-friendly furniture boasts a number of benefits to both homeowners and the planet. The decision to switch out your current decor for something that can help the environment is one worth considering.

Financially Sound

Many people worry that eco-friendly products are too costly. This is a general misconception about going green that has prevented a large number of homeowners from taking action. Still, looking at the numbers can help you to see the reality. Most of the materials found in eco-friendly furniture options are much more affordable than other options. Experts have been working for years to craft sustainable and less expensive materials for use in a variety of goods. This means that you are likely to save a bit of cash when you opt to go for this type of furniture.

Clean Manufacturing

A great deal of the goods and produced across the world harm the environment in the way that they are created. The chemicals released into the environment during some of these processes can do serious harm to the air, soil, and water. Furniture made up of eco-friendly materials will not damage the planet in this way. This is because the process to manufacture these options is much safer and does not release the same deadly byproducts. By cutting back on the more dangerous production practices, a bit of pressure can be taken off the planet.

Preserve Resources

Since most eco-friendly furniture options consist of synthetic materials, it allows fewer trees to be cut down each year for the purpose of crafting goods. Trees are an incredibly important aspect of the planet’s survival. Plants, trees specifically, are responsible for producing clean oxygen and offering shelter to an array of lifeforms. Protecting trees for the future is a must for the survival of all life on Earth. When you make the choice to switch to a new kind of furniture, you are able to help reduce the need for wood and preserve the forests of tomorrow.

The world is facing more problems now than ever before. In order for positive changes to be made to the environment, people must stand up and make the right decisions. Taking manageable steps like being selecting in the goods that you buy can be a great way to do your part. Consider the benefits of switching to eco-friendly furniture. This is a choice that can help you to protect precious resources, eliminate harmful byproducts created from manufacturing processes, and save a bit of money all the while. Explore your options and make a decision that will help preserve the planet.

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Want to Connect With Nature? Start by Disconnecting From Busyness

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Connect With Nature

Have you ever found yourself staring at one of your (many) devices and feeling slightly disgusted with how much time you waste on technology? If so, you aren’t alone. We all have moments like these and it’s important that we use them as motivation to change – especially if we want to be more connected with nature.

How Busyness Impacts Your Connection With Nature

Whether you realize it or not, you live an ultra connected life. Between smart phones, tablets, computers, and wearable devices, you’re never very far from some sort of technology that can connect you to the internet or put you in touch with other people. That’s just the world we live in.

While it could be argued that this sort of omnipresent connectivity is a positive thing, it’s also pretty clear that being permanently tethered to technology impacts our ability to strip away distractions and connect with nature.

When you’re always within arm’s reach of a device, you feel a sense of busyness.  Whether it’s browsing your social media feed, uploading a picture, reading the news, or responding to an email, there’s always something to do. As someone who wants to spend more time in nature, this is problematic.

4 Practical Ways to Disconnect

If you want to truly connect with nature and live a greener lifestyle, you have to be proactive about finding ways to disconnect. Here are a few practical suggestions:

1. Switch to a New Phone Plan

It’s not always practical to totally unplug from the world. Family and work responsibilities mean you can’t go off the grid and continue to fulfill your responsibilities. Having said that, there are some ways to scale back.

One suggestion is to switch to a prepaid phone plan. When you have a prepaid phone plan, you’re far less likely to spend hours and hours of your time making phone calls, sending texts, and surfing the web. It forces you to be more conscious of what you’re doing.

2. Get Rid of Social Media

Social media is one of the biggest time wasters for most people. Whether you realize it or not, it’s also a huge stressor. You’re constantly being exposed to the best snapshots of everyone else’s lives, which makes you feel like you’re missing out on something (even when you aren’t).

If you want to feel a sense of relief and free yourself up to spend more time in nature, get rid of social media. Don’t just delete the apps off your phone – actually disable your accounts. It’s a bold, yet necessary step.

3. Create Quiet Hours

If you aren’t able to get rid of social media and disable various online accounts, the next best thing you can do is establish quiet hours each day where you totally detach from technology. You should do this for a minimum of three hours per day for best results.

4. Build Community

Do you know why we’re drawn to social media and our devices? Whether consciously or subconsciously, it’s because we all want to be connected to other people. But do you know what’s better than connecting with people online? Connecting with them in person.

As you build real life, person-to-person relationships, you’ll feel less of a need to constantly have your eyes glued to a screen. Connect with other people who have an appreciation for nature and bond over your mutual interests.

Untether Your Life

If you find yourself constantly connected to a device, then this is probably a clear indicator that you aren’t living your best life. You certainly aren’t enjoying any sort of meaningful connection with nature. Now’s as good a time as any to untether your life and explore what a world free from cords, screens, and batteries is really like.

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