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conceptual mapping >  cultures and identities  > Indiginous communities must have control over their rainforests, not us

Progressio

Indiginous communities must have control over their rainforests, not us

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You may have noticed that you can now buy acres of land in the Amazonian rainforest as a way of combating global warming. The idea is that you will price the Amazon deforestation industry out of the market, so that carbon stays stored in the trees rather than being released into the atmosphere. This is the solution of one of a number of northern-based charities, including Cool Earth launched last month, to the threat of climate change.

Although such organisations are responding to our urge to take action on what is now seen as the biggest challenge of our time, what is worrying is that some of these initiatives appear to be taking control of rainforest land away from the indigenous local people who depend on it for every aspect of their lives.

Cool Earth says that it works ’hand in hand with partners’ to invest in sustainable local production, and we at Progressio would be interested to know more about how they do this. Progressio is concerned that the hype around climate change has led to oversimplified solutions that may ignore the reality for the poor people who depend on the environment’s natural resources.

The basic needs of the poor in Latin America, Africa and Asia where Progressio works have always been met by natural resources which provide them with food, energy, water, housing, good health, employment and an income. These people have already noticed changes in the climate. In Ecuador for example, our partner CEPCU (Centro de Estudios Pluriculturales) works with native Kichwa communities in the Imbakucha basin. The older generation say they ’no longer know when to sow because the rains do not come as expected’. This is confirmed by scientific evidence including the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which this year said: ’In the Sahelian region of Africa, warmer and drier conditions have led to a shorter growing season with detrimental effects on crops.’ In southern Africa people are already adapting to longer dry seasons and more uncertain rainfall.

People from poor Ugandan communities, when consulted by their government, said that as the quality of the physical environment declines - whether it be infertile soil, deforestation, pasture degradation or decreasing fish stocks - their opportunities to make a living and increase their income is limited, which makes them more vulnerable to future shocks such as climate change. Read more

date of on-line publication : 26 July 2007

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