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The division among indigenous communities has been one of the main impacts of the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) project called "Kalimantan Forest Carbon Partnership" (KFCP), which is being developed in Central Kalimantan province, Indonesia.
According to the some local residents, the REDD project introduces a new worldview, since it gives them the possibility of earning money for doing what they’ve always done, taking care of their forests and natural environment. This has brought divisions among indigenous families, especially in Dayak Ngaju, said Isaac Rojas, Coordinator of the Forests and Biodiversity Program of Friends of the Earth International, an environmentalist federation present in nearly 80 countries. “There are changes in the social cohesion, in the unity of the community”, added Rojas, who told Real World Radio that the same happens with REDD projects in different parts of the world.
From September 25 to October 5, the activist participated in a tour around five of the seven communities involved in the KFCP project, and managed to talk with six representatives of those communities. Members of Walhi-Friends of the Earth Indonesia, Friends of the Earth Australia, a non-governmental organization of that country called the Climate Justice Program, the World Rainforest Movement (WRM) and local organizations close to the project area participated in the tour. The goal was to verify the impacts of the REDD project in the communities, talk to their members, get to know their needs and act accordingly at international level.
KFCP is financed by the Australian government, which transfers the funds to the Indonesian government explaining that the aim is to protect forests, according to Rojas. The project covers a total area of 120 thousand hectares in seven communities by the Kapuas River in Kapuas district, in Central Kalimantan.
Friends of the Earth International has been following the case for a year to spread the voices of the local populations that have denounced a lack of consultation and the violation of their rights. The environmentalist federation is looking to expose how market mechanisms really work. KFCP is a project that will allow the Australian government to generate carbon bonds to trade in international markets and continue with the predator development model, warned Rojas.
Many times this kind of projects give way to what Friends of the Earth refers to as “offsetting”, A government or company, for instance, funds a project considered “clean” in the Global South as a way to offset their polluting activities in other parts of the world. These projects in the South generate the so-called “emission reduction certificates” or “carbon credits or bonds” which end up being a way to legitimize continuing with other practices that damage the environment.
In the case of KFCP, areas are preserved and forests are planted in other places (reforestation) with the same logic than that of monoculture plantations (large extensions of lined-up trees) and with species that have difficulties growing in the area. Rojas denounced that the traditional knowledge of local communities is left aside, among other things, because they have suggested some tree varieties that are not taken into account by the project managers.
In some communities, their members cannot enter the areas under reforestation, and some rivers, through which the indigenous people travel by boat, have been blocked by the KFCP project that uses their water for the tree plantations.
Friends of the Earth Forests and Biodiversity Program Coordinator said this type of REDD projects are imposed in impoverished communities who need financial resources to improve their quality of life. However, the reality shows that they fail to pay the communities and when payments are made they are late and minimal, said Rojas.
According to the activist, the rights of native communities in the area of the KFCP project are violated by the project itself, the advance of palm oil plantations and the threat imposed by mining. Some of the communities have shown their outrage and KFCP’s representatives are not welcome.
Friends of the Earth International will continue next year working on exposing KFCP‘s impacts at world level, while Walhi-Friends of the Earth Indonesia will hold workshops with local communities in order to strengthen the alternatives, which are the traditional ways these communities take care of forests. Meanwhile, Friends of the Earth Australia plans to strengthen their lobby with the visit of members of communities impacted by the project to the members of parliament of the country.
“No queremos ser mártires, no queremos que hayan más mártires en este país, pero también hay una responsabilidad histórica de hacer valer la palabra y demostrar que tenemos derecho a la construcción de un mundo mejor. Y no podemos huir a esa responsabilidad”, dijo a Radio Mundo Real la dirigente garífuna Miriam Miranda, coordinadora de la Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña (OFRANEH).
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