Forests = Food + Fuel – A Planned Tragedy


Via the BBC,

"Demand for land to grow food, fuel crops and wood is set to outstrip supply, leading to the probable destruction of forests, a report warns."


The report in question was drafted by the coalition Rights and Resources Initiative focused on global forest policy. They advocate sustainable management of forestry as well as respects for the people living in and from the forests in their rights not to be forcibly displaced by logging companies who deprive them of their livelihood. As stated in the BBC,

""Arguably, we are on the verge of a last great global land grab," said RRI’s Andy White, co-author of the major report, Seeing People through the Trees.

"It will mean more deforestation, more conflict, more carbon emissions, more climate change and less prosperity for everyone."

Rising demand for food, biofuels and wood for paper, building and industry means that 515 million hectares of extra land will be needed for growing crops and trees by 2030, RRI calculates.

But only 200 million hectares will be available without dipping into tropical forests."

Well, for logging companies and well as the biofuel and ranging sector, there is no problem: let’s just tap into these ttopical forests.  But this would make climate change worse since deforestation already accounts for 20% of carbon emissions. But the need for both fuel and food has triggered land speculation and whatever the global financial markets want, they usually get. It is a very unequal battle between Big Money and the rights of indigenous people to land.

The bottom line is the question of ownership. Who owns the trees? Who owns the land? We already know that land tenure issues are a major source of conflict. RRI advocates community ownership in order to promote indigenous peoples’ rights, livelihood through sustainable forest management and pro-poor growth through community development. As their site states,

"An estimated 350 million indigenous and tribal peoples are at least partly dependent on forests, including some 60 million who are substantially dependent on forests for their subsistence and livelihoods. Forests are also particularly important to poor women, who shoulder much of the burden for hauling wood and collecting and marketing forest products.

Dominant models of forest industry and conservation have often exacerbated poverty and social conflicts and have precluded pro-poor economic growth. The lack of clear rights to own and use forest land, develop enterprises, and trade in forest products has driven millions of forest dwellers to poverty and encouraged widespread illegal logging and forest loss.

The world will not meet national and global goals to reduce poverty and protect the environment unless poor peoples’ rights to land and resources are strengthened. Neither will the world effectively mitigate or adapt to climate change without clarifying local tenure and governance. The next two decades are critical–both for the poor and for the forests.

There are reasons for optimism. Organizations of indigenous peoples and forest-dwelling communities are gaining voice and opportunity, and after decades of limited action many countries are beginning to consider far-reaching legal and policy reforms. There is a major opportunity to advance the rights and livelihoods of forest peoples by establishing the institutional foundations for sustained conservation and forest-based economic development."

Other posts on deforestation here, here, here, here, and here.

One thought on “Forests = Food + Fuel – A Planned Tragedy

  1. The question of ownership is a good one, but it is really not valid as most modern countries have claimed ownership over indigenous peoples lands simply through legal maneuvering. There are alternative methods to gain fuel, but until we curb our desire for wood for house construction, it will be very hard to stop deforestation from taking place.

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