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28 de marzo de 2018 | | | | | | | | | | | |

Against Despair: Publication deepens on the close links between two of the peoples´ solutions against the crisis

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Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) is launching this Wednesday a new publication “Community Forest Management and Agroecology. Links and Implications”, a few days before the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) holds an international symposium on agroecology.

“It is an enjoyable publication, and it is important to read it in order not to fall into the despair that tells us that everything is lost and that we are not able to make any changes, when in fact we see that these changes are taking place every day”, said activist Isaac Rojas, coordinator of FoEI´s Forests and Biodiversity Program, in an interview with Real World Radio.

The environmental activist, who ensured that the definition of forests given by the FAO “has proven to be disastrous, just like that”, explained that the new text is addressed to decision makers, social movements and organizations and the public in general. The publication is a joint effort of the Forests and Biodiversity and Food Sovereignty Programs of Friends of the Earth International, and it includes a necessary gender approach, due to the fundamental role of women in community forest management and agroecological models.

The publication is being launched just a few days before the beginning in Rome, Italy, at the FAO´s headquarters, of the “Second International Symposium on Agroecology: scaling up agroecology to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”, which will take place from April 3 to April 5. According to the FAO itself, approximately 400 participants are expected to attend: from policy-makers and governments, agroecology practitioners and civil society representatives, to members from academia and research, the private sector, among others.

About the reasons that motivated the new report by FoEI, Rojas said that there is a strong link between community forest management and agroecology, because this management is not just about “taking care of the forests, animals or trees”; “it has to do with the food people eat”. According to him, the FAO estimates that there are 1.6 billion people who currently depend on forests one way or the other and forests are their source of food, clothing and housing, in addition to the spiritual and cultural relations and recreational activities generated in forests.

That´s why Rojas regretted the definition of forests given by the FAO. Tens of social movements and organizations from the five continents, among them the World Rainforest Movement, have been questioning it for years. For the FAO, forests are exclusively defined based on a minimum surface of land, covered by a minimum number of trees with a minimum percentage of height and forest cover.

This way, according to social movements and organizations, the FAO has actively promoted the installation of millions of hectares of industrial tree plantations, of mainly exotic species, especially in the Global South, as if these monocultures were forests. These vast plantations have caused serious environmental and social impacts for the neighboring local communities.

“Forests go beyond the constrictive definition given by the FAO, which benefits large corporations that want to continue destroying them”, highlighted Rojas, who added, at the same time, that local communities are being denied their rights over these ecosystems, which they have traditionally protected.

About the main threats to community forest management and agroecology, the Costa Rican activist mentioned “green economy, which is nothing else than the deepening of the neoliberal model in nature”. “Nature stops being what it is to become another financial asset”, he stated. Rojas especially questioned the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation mechanism (REDD).

About the actors promoting these threats, the coordinator of the Forests and Biodiversity Program of FoEI made reference to large transnational corporations, but also to official bodies, such as the United Nations Environment Program and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, that implement mechanisms that are a “big deceit, scams”.

Rojas also stated his concern over logging, many times in the hands of agribusiness, with the excuse that it is necessary to increase crop areas to combat hunger. “But agribusiness does not give us the food we need. This comes mainly from family farming and agroecological experiences”, he highlighted.

The representative of FoEI considers that the United Nations needs to fulfill “an entirely different role than the one it has been playing so far” in terms of forests. “The UN should strengthen community-based models, i.e. community forest management or agroecology, which allow these companies, these indigenous peoples, to continue living in their territories”. “Because today science is proving our point”, said Rojas, in the way that the forests managed by traditional peoples are richer, also from the point of view of basic aspects of conservation, not just social or cultural aspects.

Along these lines, the activist highlighted that there are studies that show that the forests managed by traditional communities are more biologically diverse than those which are under traditional protected area approaches. In this way, he highlighted traditional knowledge, which has been crucial for forest conservation.

Rojas believes that the UN, “instead of spending millions in studies that do not mean any change, as those spent on green economy”, should focus its efforts on promoting that governments commit to adopt policies in favor of community forest management and agroecology.

Access FoEI´s new publication here: https://www.foei.org/resources/publications/community-forest-management-agroecology

Imagen: CBD Alliance

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