World Resources Institute- To Achieve New Climate Targets, Countries Should Look to Community Forests



With the COP 21 just a few weeks away, countries are putting forward their national emissions-reduction commitments through their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). Many of the plans submitted so far aim to curb emissions by protecting and restoring forests.


For example, Mexico made a bold commitment in its INDC to achieve zero percent deforestation by 2030. Brazil has similarly committed to a goal of zero illegal deforestation by 2030. These countries—as well as others—would do well to include community forests, in particular, in their climate mitigation plans.


Community Forests And Climate Change


For many countries in Central and South America, community forests – forests traditionally inhabited by Indigenous Peoples or other local communities – represent a large percentage of the total forest area. For example, community forests comprise around 60 percent of total forest area in Mexico and 22 percent of the Amazon biome in Brazil. In 2013, Indigenous Peoples and communities held at least some legal rights to at least 511 million hectares of forest — about 15.5 percent of the world’s forest. Not only do these forests support local livelihoods, but research shows that communities can be good protectors of forests.


Recent studies have found that Indigenous Territories in the Brazilian Amazon and community forests with concessions in the Guatemalan Maya Biosphere Reserve are effective at curbing deforestation compared to similar forest areas without tenure security or protection status. Evidence from community forest enterprises in Mexico also indicates a shift towards sustainable forest management practices…


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