Why Is It Important For Indigenous Peoples To Know About REDD?

REDD is being implemented in developing countries in the tropics and sub-tropics. These forests have been inhabited by indigenous peoples since hundreds if not thousands of years. They have used, managed and shaped these forests in different ways. Rather than destroying these forests, traditional land use and management practices have lead to a more diverse landscape, and thus to an increase in biodiversity. REDD aims at supporting forest conservation, and enormous amounts of money will be made available for that in industrialized countries. Even though we may agree that forest conservation is in the interest of everybody, and certainly in the interest of indigenous communities who depend on forests for their livelihood, we can expect, as we will see below, that these programs can also have a severe negative impact on indigenous peoples.

Indigenous peoples all over the world have become increasingly concerned about REDD since their experiences in the past have shown that governments and the private companies often refuse to recognize their rights and interests in forest policies and programs. But there may also be new opportunities that may benefit indigenous communities. The positions on of indigenous organizations on REDD differ. Some groups vehemently oppose the idea of treating forests mainly as a carbon storage, and they reject any form of forest carbon trading. Others accept that there could be benefits, and demand that indigenous peoples’ positions are included in international and national processes. In any case, for indigenous communities at the local level it is important to know what REDD is all about, what the possible advantages and what the expected negative impacts are, so that they are prepared and can negotiate and defend their rights in case REDD programs are targeting their land and territories.

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