CARE BLOG

Asia Dialogue on Community Forests and Property Rights in the Context of Climate Change

8/19/10




Suvas Devkota and
Sandesh Silpakar

Asia Dialogue on Community Forests and Property
Rights in the Context of Climate Change
was successfully carried out on
August 11-12, 2010 in, Kathmandu, Nepal. More than 70 participant's
representatives from 10 countries of ASIA including Nepal were participated and
contributed to the discourse. Numbers of issues related on community forests,
property rights and cldimate change were discussed during the dialogue. The
whole dialogue process was confined Reducing Emission from Deforestation and
Degradation-REDD and totally excluded
adoption role of community forests in the climate change context.

It
is known that rights of the community / Forest dependent community and
Indigenous People (IP) through community forestry are advancing throughout the
region in some extend. These countries have developed policies and legislations
in place for advancing community forestry.
Although the progress made is not to the desired extent but community
forestry area is increasing, ownership right of communities is increasing and
government is slowly and gradually trying to realize that if forest resource
has to be restored and deforestation has to be reversed, then there is no other
way than empowering the local community and handing over the responsibility to
local community to govern the forest resources.

Lessons
could be learnt from Australia, China, and Vietnam and to some extent Nepal on
how tenure reform is directly related to forest degradations conditions. An
example of Phillippines points that more the community based forest management,
lesser is the degradation. However, more studies need to be done in this
aspect.

The
key minimum reform that should be done is to clarify a balanced role,
responsibility and authority among the state, civil society and community.
Tenure reform is not adequate, there should be tenure transformation. The
transformation of tenure meaning the shift, the handover of ownership rights
from state to community, so that the tenure rights to intervene to the
resources are secure.

Drivers of
deforestation:

Some are related to forest, others are related to agriculture and there are
many important driving forces that are related to political governance system
particularly corruption, illegal logging, unclear tenure and colonial history
meaning still the control and command system.

Important questions on discussion: What does REDD offer
more than what we have now? What actually we lose if we adapt REDD? What we
gain out of REDD plus or what we lose if we adopt it?

If
REDD++ readiness mechanism is done unilaterally by state without equal
partnership with CSO and communities, then it is likely that REDD plus will
fail before it goes for the compliance stage.

If
that does not happen then people will see REDD as a new form of
colonialization, recentralization and another form of failure of state and
market. Therefore participation of CSO and community as equal partners not just
as token of partnership should be there.

Alternative
definition of REDD means rights over resources, equity, devolution of power,
democracy and development. REDD should follow governance and equity.

The
compliance of just 1% of the total promise of $100 billion does not guarantee
the implementation of REDD that goes in favor of communities. Psychology of
Market saying that the rate of carbon credit might go by half. Therefore who
benefits, who buys the carbon; that loses, the communities.

Onecommon
voice
is needed.During this time of readiness, we should
not worry just about financial mechanisms but we should also make sure
that the information mechanism and the other institutional mechanism are in
place and we learn ourselves at national and sub national level by doing some
innovative project.

Conclusion:

Is carbon just added
value or there will be more conditions that will be imposed upon the
communities? If the conditions are not acceptable and if the condition
restricts the current access to forest for livelihood, then carbon would not be
an added value, carbon would in turn restrict the users to access forest.
Therefore, it should be very clear on this whether an added value is or
not. From our experience from Asia, can we say that community forest be
considered as important vehicle for REDD. If it is not, if people see different
alternatives than CF,then there is very little prospect for REDD.


Only
by securing community/IPs rights that forest would be managed wisely. State has
to play an enabling role and communities will prove to be better managers of
forests. REDD has both opportunities and challenges. fear that REDD will bring
recentralization, fear that money will drive the policy rather policy driving
the money, fear that the community rights and the humanrights get compromised.

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