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20 de marzo | | | | | |

Towards the International Day of Forests: importance of the role of local communities and indigenous peoples in forest conservation

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Environmental federation Friends of the Earth International reaffirms and promotes the role of local communities, particularly indigenous people, in the protection and management of forests in light of the International Day of Forests to be celebrated on March 21st.

The network of environmental organizations present in approximately 75 countries is deeply concerned about the deforestation processes at global scale and the “false solutions” to face them, such as the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation mechanism (REDD) and other forms of “financialization of nature”.

This is what Nele Marien, co-coordinator of FoEI´s Forests and Biodiversity Program said in an interview today with Real World Radio.

In 2012, the UN´s General Assembly declared March 21st as International Day of Forests, paying homage to the importance of all types of forests and raising awareness about the issue. This year, the celebration is focused on forests and sustainable cities, with the theme “Let´s make our cities greener, healthier, happier places to live”. The aim is to raise awareness on the resources and knowledge available for this purpose in the short and long terms.
Nevertheless, in the interview with Real World Radio, Nele Marien emphasized other issues that are important for FoEI, different from the focus given by the official multilateral framework. In this sense, the activist highlighted the role of the communities that have traditionally lived in the forests. “They are the ones who know how to protect the forests and they are the ones who also benefit from the forests, and by doing this they actually protect the forests for all of us”, she said.

About the main threats affecting forest ecosystems, Marien highlighted deforestation and even more the existence of “false solutions”, which promise to combat this deforestation but in reality they are doing the opposite, they violate the rights of local populations. She said: “I am specifically talking about proposals such as REDD and also other forms of financialization of nature, whereby companies come and say “if we protect this piece of forest, then actually it is giving us the right that we can emit more somewhere else, or we can destroy nature somewhere else. Therefore these companies think that they are protecting nature, but actually they are not”, said Marien, who added that many times these mechanisms displace communities, force indigenous peoples to leave their forests and thus violate their human rights.

The coordinator of the Forests and Biodiversity Program at FoEI believes it is crucial to protect the role of the people who have lived in the forests for thousands of years and who integrate their food, agricultural and economic needs in general with the needs of the forests. Marien explained that “Quite often it is the indigenous peoples living in the forests who will fight the agrocommodities plantations, mining. So therefore, reinforcing the rights and sovereignty of these indigenous peoples and these communities in general is so important both for the protection of the forests and for the peoples themselves”, she added.

Imagen: Real World Radio – Inhabitant of the Brazilian Amazon forest in Pará State

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