Study shows local communities critical in forest conservation
Resettling tribal, forest-dwelling communities in the name of biodiversity protection costs much more than involving them in efforts to conserve their land, a new report has found.
According to a study done by Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) and produced in collaboration with the Campaign for Nature revealed that close to a billion people globally live in world’s important biodiversity conservation areas.
The report said that governments should tap into indigenous knowledge and involve local communities as the best ways to protect forests and other natural resources to keep climate change in check.
In Kenya, the report estimates that close to 1 million live in the conservation areas but they are usually not involved in the conservation exercises.
The report showed that indigenous and local communities are key to achieving the United Nations' goal to restore biodiversity by 2030, and that recognizing their tenure rights is the most cost-effective to protect forests.
“Investing in indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ land and resource rights should be a primary strategy for reaching global biodiversity targets,” the report partly reads.
With the government being radial to the communities living in forests, Patrick Kipalu, Director, Africa Program with (RRI) urged the authorities to consider reviewing most of the environment conservation policies.
“There are some uncertainties and contradictions in the new land and forest laws, which can open up opportunities through which the majority of community land interests can be frustrated and curtailed in arguably lawful but unjust ways. These opportunities may not always be exploited. Much depends upon the political will to uphold," said Kipalu.
Kipalu added; “The government of Kenya should implement the rights of Indigenous Peoples, local communities, and the women within these groups over existing protected areas and in important biodiversity conservation areas by fully implementing the Community Land Act, directly engage with communities and work with organizations representing these groups—such as the Community Land Act Now (CLAN) platform — to promote rights-based conservation approaches”.