To save the rainforest, let the locals take control

Image: Andrzej Krauze)
Image: Andrzej Krauze)

All, I am catching up with a backlog of posts, thanks to the end of spring quarter. It will probably take me a couple of weeks to work through the pile. FWIW, I now know many things about the New Testament and you can still expect any of my historical references to be from the first, second and third centuries.

Here’s an opinion piece by Fred Pearce in New Scientist. Below is an excerpt and here is a link.

Forest dwellers are typically seen as forest destroyers. But the opposite is often the case, says David Bray of Florida International University.

Bray has spent a lifetime studying Mexico, where rural communities have long-standing ownership of 60 per cent of the country’s forests, and have logged them for timber to sell. This may sound like a recipe for disaster, yet he says that deforestation rates in community-owned forests have been “generally lower than in regions dominated by protected areas”.

One example is in the Yucatan region, where communities outperformed the local Calakmul Biosphere Reserve 200-fold.

Why? Because, Bray says, “communities with rights to resources conserve those resources; communities without rights have no reason to conserve… and deforestation will ensue”. Andrew Steer, the head of the Washington DC-based environment group the World Resources Institute, agrees: “If you want to stop deforestation, give legal rights to communities.”

Some environmentalists pay lip service to this new conservation narrative. But too often, forest communities face growing efforts by outsiders to grab their land in the name of conservation.

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